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Massive Battery Proposed Near Retired Navajo Coal Plant, Reports Daybreak Power

Business Wire

FERC accepts application for $3.6 billion pumped storage hydro project

2,200 MW storage facility to anchor Navajo transition to carbon-free energy

Will deliver renewable energy to L.A., Vegas, Phoenix on demand

VIENNA, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Daybreak Power Inc., a developer of gigawatt-scale energy storage projects, announced today that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has accepted the company’s application for a preliminary permit for its proposed 2,200 megawatt Navajo Energy Storage Station near Page, Ariz.

FERC’s decision January 14 marks an important early milestone for this estimated $3.6 billion project, which would utilize existing transmission infrastructure at the retired Navajo Generating Station coal plant and serve as an anchor of economic development as the Navajo Nation transitions to renewable energy resources.

The Navajo Energy Storage Station (NESS) is a pumped storage hydropower facility that would use water from Lake Powell and a new reservoir on a plateau above the lake to create a gigantic battery. The facility would use cheap, abundant solar and wind energy to pump water to the upper reservoir, then release it through turbines to generate 10 hours of renewable energy each day to power cities in California, Arizona and Nevada when demand peaks late in the day and through the night.

Unlike other proposed pumped storage projects in the region, the NESS project would not dam any rivers, inundate sacred places or deplete precious groundwater. It was sited to minimize impacts on endangered species, steer clear of culturally significant sites and avoid adverse impacts on recreation.

Daybreak Power is committed to working with the Navajo Nation, other First Nations, the recreation industry and conservation groups to wisely develop this storage project that will open a path to building a 100 percent carbon-free economy once and for all.

“Everyone knows we’re going to need massive amounts of storage to integrate high levels of renewables, and we need to do it smart and cost-effectively. The Navajo Energy Storage Station does that,” said Daybreak CEO Jim Day. “This project marks a turning point for this region to begin its transition off of coal and onto solar and wind at a scale never seen before, here or anywhere else.”

The NESS facility is Daybreak’s second huge energy storage project, following its proposed 1,540 MW Next Generation Pumped Storage facility that would utilize water from Lake Mead and transmission infrastructure near Hoover Dam.

Each of these projects dwarfs any proposed storage facility using lithium-ion batteries, leveraging the economy of scale and 50+ year lifespan of pumped hydro facilities to offer a far more cost-effective storage solution. Pumped hydro is a well understood technology that has provided 95 percent of the nation’s electricity storage for decades—far longer than the lifespan of current batteries, which wear out in just a few years.

“It’s long past time to stop messing around and start building storage projects that actually work to deliver renewable energy on-demand, around-the-clock,” Day said.

Daybreak Power is a developer of large-scale energy storage projects, with nearly 50,000 megawatt-hours of pumped storage hydropower capacity in its pipeline. We founded the company in 2018 to provide the cost-effective storage that will pave the way to reaching 100 percent carbon-free power by 2050. Visit us at to see how we are working to achieve our company motto: “Let’s Make It Happen!”

For media inquiries, please call 703-624-4971 or contact Joyce Patry at

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Joyce Patry


Source: Daybreak Power Inc.


Roger Arnold's picture
Roger Arnold on Jan 20, 2020 1:57 am GMT

This project makes sense for high volume, long duration energy storage. It could support grid integration of higher levels of renewable resources, or provide peaking power to complement baseload nuclear. It also sounds environmentally friendly in that it will use a constructed reservoir atop a plateau that won't involve damming any existing river or flooding of sacred sites.

I wonder, however, whether it will be able to secure the power purchase agreements necessary to attract funding. The Eagle Mountain pumped hydro project in south-central California stalled out after being unable to secure PPAs for its power. It's not clear whether that was because it was cheaper for the utilities served by Cal-ISO to buy power from gas-fired power plants, or because opposition from environmentalists persuated utility officials that they didn't want to take on the PR liability.

Whatever the facts of the Eagle Mountain project, it's an unfortunate fact of life for utilities that -- absent a realistic price on carbon emissions -- it's impossible to make a purely economic case for any long duration energy storage facility. It will always be cheaper to dispatch power from a cheap gas-fired power plant to back renewables, and to hell with carbon emissions.

Even when some amount of energy storage capacity is mandated, as in California, the mandate is invariably specified in terms of megawatts, not megawatt-hours. So low energy but high power capacity battery banks are the most attractive way to comply. Short term storage of that sort may indeed enable higher levels of intermittent renewables to be integrated. But they're really only replacing lightly used short-term peakers. They provide more time to ramp existing fossil fueled plants up or down, and reduce generator starts and stops. However they will never eliminate the need for fossil fueled backup. Only long-duration storage will be able to achieve that.

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