150-meter-high columns that can be seen from miles off the coast of Northern California overshadow what was once California’s largest power plant. This large power plant is called Muslinging and the huge power generator of this power plant used natural gas.
Today, as California moves steadily toward decarbonizing its economy, the twin chimneys of the Muslinging plant are shut down and the plant is largely inactive. Instead, it is on the verge of starting a new life as the world’s largest battery, storing extra energy when solar panels and wind farms are generating electricity, and returning stored energy to the grid when they are not working. At this place, a 300-megawatt lithium-ion battery is being prepared, and another 100-megawatt battery will be launched in 2021.
These large batteries are not the only large batteries that will soon be available at the Muslandling plant. Another 182.5-megawatt storage system is to be built using Tesla’s 256-megapixel batteries and will power the California grid by mid-2021. In addition, another 250-megawatt storage project has been launched in San Diego this year, a 100-megawatt battery project in Langbach is nearing completion, and a number of others around the state are in various stages of construction.
California is currently a world leader in efforts to strike a balance between the intermittency of renewable energy in grids and large-scale batteries; But other parts of the world are also rapidly following this path. Recent plans include a 409-megawatt system in South Florida, a 320-megawatt plant near London, a 200-megawatt facility in Lithuania, and a 112-megawatt plant in Chile.
Due to falling prices and advances in technology that allow batteries to store large amounts of energy, power storage systems at the grid scale are experiencing unprecedented growth. Many of the achievements are the result of the automotive industry’s efforts to make smaller, cheaper, and more powerful lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles. In the United States, tax incentives for storage systems paired with solar installations play an important role in the development of this technology.
Currently the world’s largest battery facility is the Hornsdale Power Reserve in South Australia.
The widespread expansion of the energy storage system can overcome one of the major barriers to renewable energy: the alternation between surplus production when the sun shines and the wind blows, and energy shortages when the sun sets and the wind blows. Proponents say that by eliminating the imbalance between supply and demand, batteries could replace courier power plants that use fossil fuels. Courier power plants are power plants that operate several hours a day when demand for energy increases. Similarly, extensive energy storage can be important to expand access to renewable energy and speed up the transition to a carbon-free grid. Bernadette Del Chiaro“Bridge energy storage is the key to achieving a clean energy future,” says the executive director of the California Solar Energy and Storage Association.
The speed of this future depends largely on the speed with which costs are reduced. Large-scale battery storage price tags have dropped by about 70% between 2015 and 2018. This sharp drop in price has been accompanied by advances in the chemistry of lithium-ion batteries and a dramatic improvement in their performance. Battery capacity has also increased, and facilities can store and discharge energy longer.
Competition in the market and increasing battery production also play an important role. The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory predicts that average lithium-ion battery costs will drop by another 45% between 2018 and 2030. Ray Hohenstein“We are benefiting from the growth of lithium-ion battery technology, which is mainly driven by the electric vehicle and consumer electronics industry,” said Fluence, a market plan manager for energy storage projects. In California, falling battery prices, along with strong state pressure to move to a carbon-free grid by 2045, have led to the start of many storage projects.
Mosslanding Power Plant in California Turns Large Battery Technology into Renewable Energy Storage for Electricity in Surrounding Areas
When the massive Mosleling project is fully operational by mid-2021, it will more than double California’s energy reserves. Several other states are launching large-scale energy storage projects. One such project is the 316-megawatt Ravenwood project in New York, which could power more than 250,000 homes for up to eight hours and replace two courier natural gas power plants in New York City. The 409-megawatt Manati system, planned for South Florida, will also be charged by a nearby solar power plant. This system, which is the largest battery system in the world and is powered by the sun, replaces two old units that used natural gas.
According to industry activists, the capacity of large batteries used to store energy in the United States will increase from 1.2 gigawatts in 2020 to 7.5 gigawatts in 2025. Kelly Spikes BeckmanThe executive director of the American Energy Storage Association says that in the United States, battery storage capacity doubled in 2020, and could have tripled had it not been for the interruptions caused by Quid 19.
Europe is slower in storage. Daniel Gatti Is an analyst at IDTechEx, a UK research firm specializing in emerging technologies. He believes Europe is a little more conservative about such developments. In Europe, he says, the development of energy storage is being hampered by a restrictive electricity market that is dominated by government auctions and underscores storage. However, a number of large battery projects are underway; Including the 320 MW Gateway system that will be built near London.
Globally, Gatti predicts rapid growth in energy storage, which will reach 1.2 TW (1,200 GW) in the next decade. It is one of Australia’s leading players, becoming the first country in 2017 to install a large 100-megawatt battery on its power grid. It plans to launch another 300-megawatt system near Victoria.
The new system distributes electricity across states based on demand, maximizing the efficiency of existing transmission infrastructure, and reducing the need to build new power lines that are often unused. Similar projects are underway in Germany.
Saudi Arabia also plans to build a large surplus energy storage system on its west coast. The 24-hour facility will provide 100 percent renewable energy for a recreation complex of 50 hotels and 1,300 homes along the Red Sea coast.
Experts say most fossil fuel power plants in the United States will expire by 2035, and the time for rapid growth in energy storage on an industrial scale is near. یییی ژو“Renewable energy combined with battery storage is now a viable economic option for new gas-fired power plants,” said Bloomberg NEF, a renewable energy systems expert. The coupling of electricity generation is particularly successful with solar energy storage, which generally follows a predictable daily pattern. Zhou says the more solar energy enters the grid, the higher the cost of operating gas-fired power plants. “Gas plants now have to be turned on and off more because of the arrival of solar energy, which will cause them to wear out and shorten their lifespan,” he said.
Hohenstein of Fluence says batteries are even reaching a capacity of about 200 megawatts, helping renewables replace small and medium-sized natural gas generators. Hohenstein is witnessing an increase in investment in large projects. “We can now build these hybrid resources (solar, storage and wind) and do what was once done with power plants that used fossil fuels,” he said.
Wesley Cole“Adding renewable energy storage makes it more profitable,” says an energy analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Storage helps increase the value of the system by absorbing excess energy that is lost in the middle of the day due to low demand for electricity and transferring it when energy demand is high.
While energy storage is booming in valuable markets such as California, battery prices need to fall further for the widespread use of such systems worldwide. However, analysts are optimistic that the price of batteries will eventually drop enough enough to expand the use of the energy storage system.