Tesla has just been awarded its largest contract to date to build a 20 megawatt (MW) battery storage facility after the worst methane gas leak in U.S. history left California utilities hunting for new energy backup resources.
Tesla was awarded a contract by Southern California Edison (SCE) to have the lithium-ion battery storage facility up and running by the end of this year.
"It is remarkable that this facility is going to be built in just a few months, a technology fix that could never be replicated with fossil fuel-based infrastructure," said Amit Ronen, director of Solar Institute at George Washington University. "Today’s announcement highlights how quickly batteries are becoming an economical and preferable solution to meeting the demands of our modern day electricity grid."
While Tesla did not disclose the price of the contract, a similar 20MW facility also being built for SCE by by AltaGas Ltd. is valued at between $40 million and $45 million.
AltaGas will build a 20MW battery storage system at its Pomona site in southern Calif.
Tesla's contract was spurred by a legislative mandate requiring several utilities to supplement gas-fired power plants with battery storage plants after the Aliso Canyon Gas Storage facility was closed after a catastrophic leak.
In April, the Aliso Canyon site was permanently sealed with concrete after having ruptured the previous October. The methane storage plant is owned by Southern California Gas (SoCalGas) and located in the Aliso Canyon storage field near the Porter Ranch neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Over the months that it leaked, the storage facility spewed 107,000 tons of methane gas into the atmosphere and forced the evacuation of 8,000 area residents.
The Aliso Canyon facility had been feeding the network of natural gas "peaker" power plants in the Los Angeles basin. Peaker plants are typically only used to supplement a power requirements during peak demand.
Equipment on a ridge above a natural gas well that is part of Southern California Gas Company's enormous Aliso Canyon facility. The gas well was the site of the largest natural gas leak in U.S. history.
For its part, Tesla said that upon completion its system will be "the largest lithium ion battery storage project in the world.
"When fully charged, this system will hold enough energy to power more than 2,500 households for a day or charge 1,000 Tesla vehicles," Tesla said in a blog Thursday.
Tesla, however, is not alone in being awarded battery storage facility contracts, and while its will be the largest facility upon completion, that title will not be long held.
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