By - Jim Vess

Utility-scale battery storage capacity has grown fourfold since 2014 to 899 megawatts

Energize Weekly, July 17, 2019

Utility-scale battery storage capacity has grown more than fourfold since the end of 2014, reaching 899 megawatts (MW) by March 2019, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA).

If currently planned projects are completed and no capacity is retired, storage could exceed 2,500 MW by 2023. The EIA defines a utility-scale project as one with a capacity of 1 MW or more.

“Growth in utility-scale battery installations is the result of supportive state-level energy storage policies and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Order 841 that directs power system operators to allow utility-scale battery systems to engage in their wholesale energy, capacity, and ancillary services markets,” the EIA said.

In the first quarter of 2019, 60 MW of utility-scale battery storage power capacity came online, and another 108 MW of installed capacity is set to become operational by the end of the year. The largest project is the Top Gun Energy Storage facility in California with 30 MW of installed capacity.

As of March 2019, the total utility-scale battery storage power capacity planned to come online through 2023 was 1,623 MW, which would triple capacity by the end of that year.

Pairing utility-scale battery storage with intermittent renewable resources, such as wind and solar, has also become increasingly competitive compared with traditional generation options.

There are 16 operating storage facilities with an installed capacity of 20 MW or more, with California, Illinois and Texas accounting for about half of the total 899 MW. Following those three in capacity are West Virginia, Hawaii and Alaska.

The two largest operating utility-scale battery storage sites in the United States are the 40-MW the Golden Valley Electric Association’s storage system in Alaska and the 40-MW Vista Energy storage system in California.

The largest planned storage project is the Manatee Solar Energy Center in Parrish, Fla. With a capacity of 409 MW, it will be the largest solar-powered battery system in the world, storing energy from a nearby Florida Power & Light solar photovoltaic (PV) facility.

The next largest project is the Helix Ravenswood facility located in Queens, New York. The site is planned to be developed in three stages and will have a total capacity of 316 MW.

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