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Joe Deely's picture
Partner Deely Group

Involved with high-tech for last 30 years. Interested in energy.

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  • May 16, 2020

Even with shutdowns - renewables and storage are moving forward.  There is plenty of NG in California that needs replacing.

Another of the world’s largest battery projects is moving forward with construction in Southern California amid the coronavirus slowdown.

Strata Solar will begin construction in July on its 100-megawatt/400-megawatt-hour battery plant in Ventura County, north of Los Angeles along the coast. County authorities signed off on the final approvals over Zoom, allowing the project to keep on schedule, Strata SVP of Energy Storage Joshua Rogol told Greentech Media. It should be operational by early 2021.

Less than a year to get it up and running. Time to market is important.

That’s a welcome development for a project that serves as a test case for replacing new natural-gas plants with non-emitting battery storage. Strata’s Ventura Energy Storage project is the largest of a portfolio of batteries that utility Southern California Edison procured in place of a new NG gas plant on the beach in Oxnard, California.

“We’re going to serve as the backbone resource for the Ventura area,” said Will Mitchell, Strata’s director of origination for the West.

Solar and storage replacing NG.

Another grid challenge has risen to prominence in California: preemptive power shutoffs to stop grid equipment from starting wildfires in hot, dry and windy conditions. The Ventura battery, nestled between the Santa Barbara coast and the mountains, will provide a major source of local capacity if transmission lines over the mountains get disrupted due to wildfire risk.

Important to have local resources.

Strata Solar has installed a few batteries already, but the Ventura project vaults the company into the big leagues. Only a handful of companies have attempted building a battery at the 100-megawatt scale, starting with Tesla in South Australia. But the ranks are swelling constantly; SCE alone signed deals for four more earlier this month. 

Multiple storage deals signed - even in the middle of a shutdown. Impressive.

Mitchell added that SCE's newest procurement, totaling 770 megawatts across seven sites, will spur an acceleration of global manufacturing capacity for grid storage.

It's going to be interesting to see how steep the learning curve is for storage.

Per the contract with SCE, the Ventura system will deliver resource adequacy by bidding into the day-ahead CAISO markets. The utility can also make a handful of emergency calls per year in the event of wildfires or other grid constraints.

We'll get to see how this project works by looking at daily battery statistics for CAISO.

"Generally speaking, we’re going to be charging the battery during peak solar hours, when energy prices are low or negative, and potentially discharging during peak demand hours, when folks are coming home, trying to smooth out that duck curve," Rogol said.

Batteries will be charged by cheap solar in the middle of the day and discharged during peak demand hours. Buy low, sell higher.  This will eliminate a chunk of ramped NG during early evening hours.


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