By - Jim Vess

Mitsubishi Hitachi seeks to build world’s largest energy storage facility in Utah

Energize Weekly, June 12, 2019

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MPHS) and Magnum Development announced a plan at the end of May to develop the world’s biggest clean energy storage facility – 1,000 megawatts – using a range of technologies and salt caverns in Utah.

The aim is to provide energy storage for the Western power grid, but critics have already raised concerns about the cost of the project and the market demand for it.

MPHS will provide the technology and Magnum a “Gulf Coast style domal-quality salt formation” near a transmission hookup at Intermountain Power Project.

The goal is to develop energy storage to completely serve the needs of 150,000 households for a year using renewable hydrogen, compressed air energy storage (CAES), large-scale low-flow batteries and solid oxide fuel cells.

“The technologies we are deploying will store electricity on time scales from seconds to seasons of the year,” Paul Browning, CEO of MHPS Americas, said in a statement. “For example, when we add gas turbines powered with renewable hydrogen to a hydrogen storage salt-dome, we have a solution that stores and generates electricity with zero carbon emissions.”

The Advanced Clean Energy Storage (ACES) project will engineer, finance, construct, own and operate facilities to be located in Millard County, Utah.

“Over the coming weeks and months, additional strategic and financial partners will be invited to participate,” MPHS said in a statement.

“This is the first large-scale, long-duration storage initiative announced in the U.S. in recent years,” Ravi Manghani, head of energy storage research at Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, told GTM News. “Long-duration storage will be critical for a decarbonized future.”

Nevertheless, some critics have raised questions about the project’s viability.

Compressed air storage installations have been difficult to develop and need precise geological formations. The last large-scale CAES facility built in the U.S. was a 110-megawatt installation in Alabama in 1991.

Magnum is also partnered with Duke-American Transmission Corp. on an $8 billion project, proposed in 2014, to build a line to send Wyoming wind-generated electricity to California, using the Utah salt cavern as storage. The project is “on hold” while customers are found for the power, according to a Duke statement.

“I don’t see the economics being compelling in the next decade,” Jesse Jenkins, a Harvard University energy analyst, said on Twitter. “Maybe in late 2030s if renewables shares are starting to get really high and policy commitment to deep decarbonization without reliance on natural gas is strong.”

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