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Tesla to build its largest battery storage plant in southern Calif.

Lucas Mearian | Sept. 19, 2016
The lithium-ion battery storage plant will supply 20MW

In August, AltaGas Ltd. was awarded a contract by SCE to build a 20MW facility this year on the site of its natural gas plant in Pomona, and AES Corp. won a bid to build a grid-scale energy storage system with 37.5MW of capacity for San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) -- 30MW in Escondido and 7.5MW in El Cajon. AES's facility is scheduled to be operational by the end of January 2017.

Once completed, the Escondido array will be the largest battery-based energy storage project in operation in the U.S.

"These batteries are beneficial because they maintain a reliable flow of energy to customers when they need it most," James Avery, SDG&E's chief development officer, said in a statement. "We also are national leaders in supplying renewable resources, with more than 33% of the energy we supply to customers coming from wind and solar. These batteries will help smoothly integrate this growing supply of clean energy onto the power grid for use by our customers."

Finding cost-effective ways to store electricity is critical to scaling up not only clean but intermittent resources like wind and solar energy, Ronen said. While the marketplace will decide which energy storage technologies will work best for which situation, batteries are particularly promising, he said, because they can instantly deliver the reliable and resilient power needed to power a digital economy.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) ordered Southern California Edison, PG&E and other utilities to solicit more utility-scale energy storage solutions that could be operational by Dec. 31, 2016.

In all, CPUC is requiring utilities to meet a target of 1,325MW of additional power storage by 2020.

In July, Tesla Motors announced that it is morphing from being just an all-electric car maker to being a clean energy corporation. In August, the company announced it was acquiring SolarCity, which was founded by Tesla CEO Elon Musk and his two cousins and is one of the nation's largest solar installers. Musk is also the chairman of SolarCity and a majority stockholder.

SolarCity already sells Tesla's Powerwall and Powerpack lithium-ion battery storage products, which are made in Tesla's Gigafactory outside of Reno, Nev.

Tesla has also announced it will begin building its own microgrids, which can act as small, independent power generation and storage facilities for cities, corporate campuses, military bases or remote locations such as islands.

"I found it notable that not only is this project being used to help solve problems associated with the largest methane leak in U.S. history, but also that the batteries being used will be sourced from the same U.S. factory that is producing batteries for electric cars that will help reduce emissions from the transportation sector," Ronin said.


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