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Energy Storage, Go Big or Go Home!

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Nevelyn Black's picture
Writer, Independent

Nevelyn Black is an independent writer with a background in broadcast and a keen interest in renewable energy.  In the last few years, she transitioned from celebrity interviews and film shoots...

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  • Mar 13, 2021

“The energy transition is too important to leave to chance…” said EnergyAustralia’s Managing Director, Catherine Tanna. The privately owned company is one of many switching to battery energy storage systems (BESS).  Vistra Energy has a brand new 300 megawatt plant in California. The Moss Landing Energy Storage Facility is estimated to grow to 400 megawatts. The power company has signed contracts with California investor-owned utility, PG&E, to help maintain stable, ample and reliable electricity for customers. Despite the name and location, this plant should not be confused with the battery energy storage project by PG&E called Moss Landing BESS.  That system is being built at the site of the utility’s Moss Landing substation. PG&E’s project is currently under construction using Tesla Energy battery storage system equipment. It will also be among the world’s biggest battery storage projects when completed, at 182.5MW / 730MWh. In Texas, prior to the freeze, several energy storage projects were under development.  Just south of Houston, Gambit Energy Storage LLC., a subsidiary of Tesla, has been building an enormous battery.   Tesla plans to help add power to the crippled grid with a 100 megawatt battery being constructed in Angleton, Texas. Key Capture Energy is also working on a 100 megawatt battery storage project in Travis County and last fall, Astral Electricity started construction on a 100 megawatt battery energy storage plant near Fort Worth called the Chisholm Grid.  It is scheduled to be complete by June, putting it on track with Tesla’s timeline. 

While EnergyAustralia is not unique in their shift to energy storage, their method is quite interesting.   If all goes according to plan, they could set a precedent for industry leaders making the switch to clean energy.  The company hopes to demonstrate that coal plants can be retired in a way that supports the community, staff and customers without interfering with service and reliability.  “Our $10 million support package, coupled with seven years’ advance notice, means our power station and mine site people will have time to plan, reskill or retrain,” Tanna explained. The plans are praiseworthy to say the least and I, for one, am eager to see the results upon completion.  When speaking about Australia and getting results, we have to mention the 100MW Hornsdale Power Reserve energy system installed in 2016 by Tesla in connection with the South Australian Government and windfarm owner, Neoen.  Setting aside who was first or which facility touts ‘world’s largest,’ the goal to stabilize the grid during unexpected events and reduce electricity prices has been achieved and is, no doubt, the catalyst for current and future projects around the world.  “If you look at what’s going on in storage, in about 10 years, 2030, the battery industry will grow about 10 times bigger,” Yi Cui, the director of Stanford University’s Precourt Institute for Energy, predicted at the high-profile energy industry event.  “That’s reaching somewhere about 2 terawatt-hours of the battery capacities,” he added. “It’s gigantic.”  The energy storage industry is gigantic and it is shattering records for battery deployments.  In the last three months of 2020, 2.2 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of energy storage systems were put into operation, according to the energy data firm Wood Mackenzie. That’s an increase of 182% from the previous record-setting quarter.

“This is the hallmark of a market beginning to accelerate exponentially, and momentum will only increase over the coming years,” stated Dan Finn-Foley, Wood Mackenzie’s head of energy storage.  With so many private companies investing in storage, how will utilities compete?  What other projects are utilities developing to support the rapidly, growing shift to energy storage?

Rao Konidena's picture
Rao Konidena on Mar 13, 2021

Here is a general listing of those applications:

  1. By reducing peak demand charge, the industrial facility is reducing their “peak” by discharging energy during peak demand time. Electric storage makes economic sense when there is a $20 per kWh peak demand charge in most instances. Otherwise, the batteries' cost at $250-$500 per kWh does not pencil out for the industrial customer.
  2. By Load shifting – peak demand time is met by storage discharging and storage device charges during off-peak demand time.
  3. By providing back-up power – the storage device instantly provides power during an outage.
  4. Demand response – by installing storage as behind-the-meter, the demand costs can be reduced.
  5. Renewable integration – If a Commercial and Industrial (C&I) customer wants to consume renewable energy, storage can charge when solar is generating and discharge when needed.
  6. Power Factor Correction – by injecting VaRs as needed, storage can correct for power factor. The power factor is the ratio of active power and reactive power. Unless the power factor is within a range, power does not transfer.  
  7. Electric storage provides reactive support and voltage control. Maintaining voltage is vital for avoiding severe damage to the generation, transmission, and distribution system. Reactive power is critical to preserving voltage levels.
  8. Electric storage also provides back-up power for resiliency. In responding to a FERC docket on resiliency, NERC said, “resilience is an element of reliability in relation to an event.  NERC has defined the adequate level of reliability to encompass aspects of resilience.” FERC initiated a proceeding in docket number AD18-7 and defines grid resilience as, “The ability to withstand and reduce the magnitude and/or duration of disruptive events, which includes the capability to anticipate, absorb, adapt to, and/or rapidly recover from such an event .” Electric batteries are increasingly replacing diesel generators as back-up power.
  9. Additionally, electric storage provides black-start services. Blackstart means bringing the electric grid to its normal state of operations when there is no energy on the grid. If there is a blackout, there are designated blackstart units, whose main role is to start the grid.
  10. Electric storage resources can reduce or entirely avoid distribution system losses.
Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Mar 15, 2021

Electric storage resources can reduce or entirely avoid distribution system losses.

How does this one work? 

Nevelyn Black's picture
Thank Nevelyn for the Post!
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