In January, the California Public Utilities Commission authorized Pacific Gas & Electric to solicit proposals that would address energy reliability needs in three portions of its service area. In February, PG&E began that process and received a number of proposals from a variety of bidders. After sorting and sifting through them all, it selected one offer for a utility-owned project and three offers for third-party-owned projects, all to be located within the South Bay–Moss Landing local sub-area. According to a company press release, if the PUC approves of PG&E’s plan, the new battery storage facilities will come online in 2019 and 2020.
According to Engadget, the Tesla installation at the Moss Landing substation will involve more than 3,000 Powerpack 2 battery storage units, making it the largest system Tesla has provided since the 129 MWh storage facility is built in South Australia last year. “The proposed utility-owned project is a 182.5 MW lithium-ion battery energy storage system (BESS) located within PG&E’s Moss Landing substation. This transmission-connected BESS will address local capacity requirements and will participate in the California Independent System Operator markets, providing energy and ancillary services,” PG&E says.
In case you’re wondering about energy storage capacity, not power capacity, 182.5 MW × 4 hours = 730 MWh, a bit more than the 129 MWh in South Australia.
The back story to this is the PUC in January disallowed a request from Calpine Energy to upgrade some of its existing generating facilities in a move that would have cost ratepayers more money. That decision led to the PUC’s request for PG&E to seek energy storage solutions instead. There is no official word on whether the other three parts of the new plan from PG&E will use Tesla batteries, but RenewEconomy notes that Elon Musk hinted during the last quarterly earnings call that a huge new battery storage system with a capacity of more than 1,000 MWh would be announced soon. “The utilities have really loved the battery pack. I feel confident that we will be able to announce a deal at the gigawatt hour scale within a matter of months,” he said at that time.
“Energy storage plays an increasingly important role in California’s clean energy future, and while it has been a part of PG&E’s power mix for decades — starting with the Helms Pumped Storage Plant in the 1980’s — recent decreases in battery prices are enabling energy storage to become a competitive alternative to traditional solutions. As a result, we believe that battery energy storage will be even more significant in enhancing overall grid reliability, integrating renewables, and helping customers save energy and money,” said Roy Kuga, vice president for grid integration and innovation at PG&E.
Just a few short years ago, renewable energy was little more than a gleam in the eye of cleantech advocates. Now, thanks to declining costs for solar, wind, and battery storage, the clean energy revolution is well underway and appears unstoppable even by politicians bought and paid for by coal and oil barons. And not a moment too soon for the future of humanity on the one and only place in the entire universe known to support human life, at least temporarily.