Los Angeles has decided to replace a major gas-burning power plant with an energy storage device which, if not exceeded by another before it is completed, will be the world’s largest storage battery.
Hot summer afternoons place a great deal of strain on the electricity grid. As air conditioners max out and people come home from work and turn on their TVs and other appliances, the demand for electricity skyrockets. The conventional solution is known as a “peaker plant,” and LA makes use of one that burns natural gas in nearby Long Beach.
California’s Public Utilities Commission has set targets to increase the state’s energy storage capacity, use more renewable energy, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050. As a result, Southern California Edison sought proposals to replace the peaker.
They got nearly 2,000 offers and ended up picking a battery storage system designed by AES Corporation. The system will take 5 years to put in place and will have 18,000 battery modules, each one the size of the battery pack in an electric car like the Nissan Leaf. The system will spend its morning charging up with cheap solar power that otherwise might be wasted and will be capable of holding and delivering more than 100 megawatts of power for a period of four hours.
There have been a number of smaller pilot battery systems in recent years, but the forthcoming Los Angeles system is on a much bigger scale. Systems like this are likely to become commonplace over time with the growing abundance of cheap solar and wind power. Entrepreneurs are looking for ways to store and sell this power.
Photo, posted February 24, 2013, courtesy of Arman Thanvir via Flickr.