A portfolio of 44 battery storage systems in San Diego County aimed at adding more emission-free energy to California’s electricity grid is about to be deployed, with a site in Chula Vista and another in El Cajon on set to pave the way next month.
EnerSmart Storage, a renewable energy company based in San Diego, will design, build and operate the systems. When completed, 12 sites across the county will improve grid reliability and increase energy efficiency. The entire portfolio will represent 165 megawatts and 336 megawatt hours of battery storage electricity, enough to power 110,000 homes for two hours.
“We’re very excited about this just because it’s something that is really helping the growth of renewable energy,” said James Beach, managing partner of EnerSmart, who said the wallet would help the distribution system of San Diego gas and electricity. âIt helps local residents and businesses by having this back-up power. ”
The El Cajon site is one of two sites that will deploy zinc battery storage technology manufactured by EOS Energy.
The Chula Vista site is one of 10 sites that will use lithium-iron-phosphate batteries manufactured by BYD, a China-based multinational headquartered in downtown Los Angeles.
BYD’s iron phosphate batteries are considered less flammable than the widely used lithium-ion batteries often found in electric vehicles and large-scale battery storage systems.
The North American Business Development Bank and Siemens Financial Services provided funding for BYD projects for EnerSmart. Beach said the total loan was $ 90 million to $ 100 million.
âWe’re really excited to have these projects going and to have strong banks behind us to help them get them in place,â Beach said.
The North American Development Bank, headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, known as NADB, is a binational institution created by the governments of the United States and Mexico to fund environmental and energy infrastructure projects within 60 miles from the border.
According to the NABD, the San Diego energy storage project will displace emissions by 31,100 metric tons of carbon per year.
âThe new battery storage project helps meet current infrastructure needs and helps increase our global competitiveness and our transition to a green economy,â said Jerry Sanders, CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, in a statement. communicated. âWe applaud the bank’s commitment.
The El Cajon and Chula Vista sites are scheduled to begin commercial operations on April 1. Beach said it hopes all 12 sites in the portfolio will be up and running by the end of 2023.
The locations with the largest systems will be in Ramona, which will store 39 megawatts and 78 megawatt hours of electricity, and Rancho PeÃ±asquitos, which will store 30 megawatts and 60 megawatt hours. Both will use BYD’s iron phosphate batteries.
Energy storage plays a bigger role in California’s energy mix. Under the state’s renewable portfolio standard, 60% of California’s electricity must come from renewable sources by 2030. By 2045, if not sooner, 100% must come from carbon-free sources.
Solar production in California is so plentiful during the day that the California Independent System Operator, the nonprofit that manages the grid for about 80% of the state, often has to send the excess to adjacent states like the ‘Arizona or shrink it all together. But when the sun goes down, solar production disappears.
Storage can help solve the problem by taking that excess solar production, backing it up via batteries or other means, and then sending it to the grid at night or other times when the power system needs it.
Any additional megawatt can also come in handy when the grid is under extreme stress due to increased demand – most often seen in California when extreme heat waves cause consumers to increase their air conditioners. If things go wrong, network operators should consider instituting rotating blackouts, as they did in August 2020.
California accounted for 506 megawatts of battery storage capacity – the maximum amount of batteries that can discharge at any given time – as of December 2020, according to the Energy Information Administration. It is by far the largest amount of any state in the nation.
In the aftermath of the 2020 gradual blackouts, the California Public Utilities Commission has ordered power companies to speed up deployment of more battery storage projects, as part of a larger mission to ensure there are has enough electricity to meet demand.
Critics of energy storage point to their relatively high cost compared to conventional energy sources. In the early 1990s, for example, lithium-ion battery projects cost around $ 10,000 per kilowatt hour.
However, prices have come down significantly, and earlier this year an analysis by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory forecasted storage costs for four-hour systems ranging from $ 143 per kilowatt-hour to $ 248 by 2030. The The industry’s breakthrough price is generally considered to be around $ 100 per kilowatt hour.
Beach of EnerSmart estimated the San Diego Wallet price to be around $ 300 per kilowatt hour.