Many homeowners are installing solar energy systems with battery backup. Energy stored in the battery can be used when the sun isn’t shining. As battery prices come down, utility-scale solar installations are also turning to battery-based energy storage.
Florida Power & Light has announced plans to build the world’s largest solar-storage combination facility in Manatee County. The 409-MW Manatee Energy Storage Center will be the largest solar-battery system by a factor of four. The specifics of the technology and source of the battery system components have yet to be announced.
The system, which is scheduled to be completed in late 2021, will be charged by a nearby FPL solar power plant. The plan is to discharge batteries during times of higher demand, thereby offsetting the need to run other power plants. As a result, there will be reduced emissions and customers will save as much as $100 million through avoided fuel costs.
Installing the mega-sized battery system will accelerate the retirements of two nearby 1970’s-era gas-fired generation units. At peak efficiency, the Manatee energy storage system will be able to power 390,000 homes for up to two hours.
FPL has already been pursuing the use of battery storage technology. Last year, they added a 10 MW battery storage system to its 74.5 MW Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center in Charlotte County.
These large battery systems are increasingly practical because of dramatic reductions in lithium-ion battery costs. The levelized cost of electricity from lithium-ion batteries has declined a remarkable 38% just since the beginning of 2018. The economics of clean energy continue to get better and better.
Photo, posted April 21, 2010, courtesy of Frank Starmer via Flickr.