California has always prided itself on being bigger, better and brighter. Nowhere is this more evident than in the race to break ground in the field of renewable-energy technologies.
Recently, California boasted yet another win in the burgeoning field of utility-scale electricity storage. In September, Southern California Edison (SCE) announced the opening of “the largest battery energy storage project in North America.”
Utility-scale battery storage technology has taken on greater importance as the contribution from renewables increases. Utilities need to capture the intermittent power from wind and solar to be used at times of low or no generation when demand is high.
Recognizing this need, the Tehachapi Energy Storage Project is strategically located in the Tehachapi Wind Resource Area, a growing region of production that SCE projects to generate up to 4,500 megawatts of wind energy by 2016. The Tehachapis are a high desert mountain pass just north of Los Angeles.
The $50 million project has understandably gigantic dimensions. Housed inside a 6,300-square-foot facility at SCE’s Monolith substation, the system is composed of 604 battery racks, 10,872 battery modules and 608,832 individual battery cells. The lithium-ion cells are the same installed in the battery packs of the Chevrolet Volt electric car. SCE’s system will provide 32 megawatt-hours of storage.
The utility regards the facility as a demonstration project. Its primary goals over a two-year period are to demonstrate the effectiveness of lithium-ion battery and smart-inverter technologies for improved grid performance and to assist in the integration of various renewable-energy resources, namely wind and solar.
The system was supplied by South Korean manufacturer LG Chem. The project was funded with matching funds from SCE and the U.S. Department of Energy stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.