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California tests whether a large battery can stop a summer power outage

(Bloomberg)-California’s plans to avoid repeated power outages last year depend on the humble savior Battery as the summer heat approaches. A huge version of the same technology that powers smartphones and cars is connected to the state power grid. According to Bloomberg NEF, California plans to add more battery capacity this year than across China, which is reliable enough to maintain a grid where batteries are powered primarily by renewable energy. Will be the biggest test ever to see if there is. When the worst heat wave of a generation overwhelmed California’s power system last year and millions were in the dark in the first rolling blackouts since the Enron crisis, many were in the state’s aggressive clean energy. Condemned its promotion and reliance on solar power. If there is another heat wave this summer, it will be the battery saving the day. Their success or failure could affect President Joe Biden’s ambitious plan to achieve a carbon-free power system by 2035. Expansion of renewable energy systems nationwide. According to the American Energy Storage Association, Biden’s long-awaited infrastructure plan announced this week includes a tax credit for grid-scale batteries. These are part of his greater efforts to not only move to renewable energy, but also to increase the reliability of aging power grids. Elliott Mainzer, Chief Executive Officer of the California Independent Systems Operator, who runs the grid, said: In most parts of the state, by August of this year, the state has a new battery capacity of 1,700 MW. This powers 1.3 million households and is theoretically sufficient to avoid grid emergencies on the scale of last year. It’s not easy. .. Three state agencies report that the state’s plan to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 requires the installation of 48.8 gigawatts of energy storage equipment. This is more than five times the output of all grid-scale batteries currently in operation around the world. Other countries are also doubling their batteries, with China planning to increase its capacity from 1.4 gigawatts in 2019 to 222 gigawatts by the middle of the century. According to BNEF, Australia has a pipeline of grid-scale battery projects totaling over 11 gigawatts. .. However, batteries have two major limitations: time and cost. Most of the battery packs available today are designed to run for just four hours at a stretch. It’s good for California, where power supplies can be strained on early summer nights after solar power outages, but batteries couldn’t prevent the days of power outages that paralyzed Texas in February. did. Kit Connoridge, a senior analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, said the battery only works until it needs to be recharged. “If the battery lasts for 4 hours, it doesn’t really work,” he said. “It hasn’t been proven yet because it uses batteries for most of its capacity.” Utility-scale batteries are better than “peak” gas plants, which are commonly used as backup power when demand is high. It is expensive. Following last year’s power outage, critics blamed the state for abolishing very cheap gas-fired power under environmental regulations. According to Bloomberg NEF data, the cost of a battery, including construction and financing, is about $ 125 per megawatt hour, compared to $ 109 for gas. Still, California sees batteries as an alternative to these peaking power plants. Batteries are not only much faster to permit and build, but can also generate income by letting owners arbitrate electricity prices, charging when electricity is cheap and discharging when electricity is high. We also offer other grid services, such as stabilizing the voltage throughout the day. “The peaker runs for a few hours in the evening and then shuts down, and that’s all it takes,” said Kiran Kumaraswamy, Vice President of Markets. An application at Fluence, an energy storage joint venture between Siemens and AES Corp, “We need to optimize how much money we can make at other times as well as provide that peak capacity.” Deployment wasn’t always smooth when it came online as prices went down. Sporadic fires struck grid-scale batteries, especially in South Korea, one of the first countries to make significant investments in energy storage. However, as utilities and utilities gained experience with this technology, these incidents became rare. Mike Florio, an energy consultant who is a former member of the Public Utility Commission of California, said: “Performance was as expected, but it doesn’t seem to be good.” But does the battery prevent power outages? So far, they are believed to have helped prevent outages elsewhere, especially in Tesla and Neoen SA in France, where they built 150 MW of lithium-ion equipment. According to Connolridge, this is a good sign for California and, in combination with other measures, should give the state enough cushioning to prevent a power outage this summer. To be on the safe side, the state has also delayed the planned closure of some gas plants and beef “demand response” to reduce electricity when needed by some customers in exchange for lower rates or other compensation. I will upload the program. Civil servants, including Governor Gavin Newsom, who are likely to be dismissed, have a strong motive to not be caught in a short period of time for the second consecutive year. “It would be ugly to encounter something similar to last summer,” Connolridge said. “For me, this is a powerful indicator that this year is unlikely.” (Add details to Biden’s infrastructure plan in the fourth paragraph.) 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