Grid-Scale Battery Storage Accelerating In Colorado & Australia
October 23rd, 2018 by Steve Hanley
To hear the opponents of Proposition 127 in Arizona tell it, renewable energy is a non-starter because it is intermittent and the cost of grid-scale storage is too high. In this case, somebody is lying through their teeth or else large and presumably savvy companies are throwing away millions of dollars on grid-scale battery storage installations in total defiance of common sense and good fiscal management principles.
Arizona Utilities Invest In Grid-Scale Battery Storage
The Arizona ballot question would set 2030 as the date for the state to derive 50% of its electricity from renewable sources. In Colorado, Xcel Energy plans to get to 55% renewables by 2026. To get there, it is installing three new grid-scale storage units — two near Pueblo and one near Commerce City — with a total capacity of 275 megawatts. It’s all part of Xcel’s mission to slash its carbon emissions by 60%. In addition to Xcel, United Power, located in Brighton, Colorado, has also indicated recently that it is ready to invest in grid-scale battery storage installations.
The Xcel storage projects are scheduled to go live in December of 2022 and will be some of the largest in the United States. “Building a 200- to 300-megawatt project, that’s real stuff. That’s a real deal,” Paul Denholm, an analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado tells the Denver Post.
He says the company’s decision to invest in battery storage was a surprise to many industry experts. ‘It’s big. We used to talk about individual battery installation,” he says. “Ten years ago, we weren’t talking about (large-scale projects) at all.” Even company officials are surprised by the move to batteries. “We saw some extremely competitive pricing for these projects, frankly,” says Jonathan Adelman, Xcel Energy’s vice president of strategic resources and business planning.
Victoria, Australia Adding Two Grid-Scale Storage Installations
In Australia, the states have decided to ignore the pandering and prattling from the federal government — which has abandoned renewable energy goals entirely in order to embrace coal generation — and move forward with building renewable energy infrastructure on their own.
Earlier this year, South Australia brought the world’s largest grid-scale battery — the 100 MW Hornsdale installation — online. Now the neighboring state of Victoria, home to the port city of Melbourne, is also planning to install two large grid-scale batteries — a 30 MW/30 MHh unit in Ballarat and a 25 MW/50 MWh battery collocated with the 60 MW Gannawarra Solar Farm, southwest of Kerang, according to a report by PV Magazine.
Lily D’Ambrosio, Victoria’s minister for energy, environment, and climate change, has been a strong advocate of renewable energy for the citizens of her state and fierce critic of the dithering by the federal government. “We said we would deliver these large scale batteries for Victoria, and that’s exactly what we’ve done. This is part of our plan to transition to a more affordable, reliable and clean energy system,” she says.
The Ballarat facility is currently in the final testing phase before being connected to the grid in time for the approaching summer. It is capable of powering 20,000 homes for an hour of critical peak demand before being recharged. The Kerang system is scheduled to become operational early next year.
The Ballarat system will respond to changing grid needs within milliseconds and will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week to support critical peak demand. “This battery will help to ease constraints on transmission lines in Western Victoria that currently curtail the output of wind and solar, while also helping to bring in more renewables to the grid,” ARENA CEO Darren Miller said.
The developments in Colorado and Victoria prove that renewable energy detractors are delusional, foaming at the mouth acolytes of Koch Industries, which is bitterly opposed to every technological innovation since the days of steam-powered naval ships. Both prove once again that saving the Earth is all well and good, but low price is still the engine that drives innovation forward. We all want a clean environment, but few of us are willing to pay more to get it.
But once the pricing signals align in favor of renewables and grid-scale batteries, no political force known to humanity can keep the clean energy revolution from gathering speed and wiping out all opposition. The only question now is, will the changes come fast enough to protect the Earth from immolation?