Two things stand out about Southern California Edison’s latest 770 megawatt battery storage plans — the total is massive and the timeline is short. The company, which services 15 million customers living in Kern, Fresno, Riverside, and San Diego counties. All told, the area covers more than 50,000 square miles. The total capacity will be comprised of 7 storage projects spread across all four counties provided by 4 different companies.
The 7 new systems are as follows:
- 88 MW/352 MWh Garland Project
- 72 MW/288 MWh Tranquility Project
- 115 MW/460 MWh Blythe 2
- 115 MW/460 MWh Blythe 3
- 230 MW/920 MWh McCoy project
- 50 MW/200 MWh Sanborn project
- 100 MW/400 MWh storage project
“These new emissions free projects will help us ensure the reliability of the grid for our customers and integrate an ever-increasing amount of clean renewable energy over the next decade,” William Walsh, SCE VP of energy procurement and management, tells PV Magazine. Remarkably, SCE wants these energy storage resources online by August 2021, an aggressive timeline unthinkable for any type of thermal generation project of this size. Once completed, the total energy storage package will allow 4 coastal thermal plants to go offline.
One of the issues that opponents of renewable energy like to harp on is that problem of connecting wind and solar generation facilities to batteries and connecting batteries to the utility grid. In virtually all cases, the new storage projects will be located next to existing or soon to be built solar installations, so adding storage will not incur a massive investment in new transmission infrastructure. SCE claims these solar-plus-storage projects, located at the same point of interconnection, will be the first of their kind on California’s grid.
The state of California has tasked utility companies with adding 3,3 gigawatts of energy storage in an effort to solve the problem that renewable energy is not dispatchable, which means when demand increases, it is not possible to simply fire up a gas powered peaker plant to compensate. Battery storage goes a long way toward reducing the dispatchability conundrum, which will help move the renewable energy revolution forward more quickly.