Utility SCE unveils largest battery storage system in US

Comprising 604,832 lithium-ion battery cells encased in 10,872 modules of 56 cells each and stacked in 604 racks, the Tehachapi Energy Storage Project is the largest of its kind in North America.

Located in California, local utility Southern California Edison (SCE) intends to employ the 32 MW-hour storage system to seriously test the technological capabilities of energy storage on the local electricity grid.

SCE began exploring energy storage and smarter grid potential many years ago, and the opening of the Tehachapi project represents a quantum leap forward in terms of size, scope and potential. Funded by SCE and federal stimulus money awarded by the Department of Energy (DOE), the project is also engineered to collaborate with the Tehachapi Wind Resource Area, which is expected to deliver 4.5 GW of wind power annually by 2016.

"This installation will help us to gain a better understanding of the value and benefit of battery energy storage," said Imre Gyuk, energy storage program manager in the energy departmentÂ’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.

The $50 million project will demonstrate the capability of lithium-ion batteries in actual system conditions over the next two years. Researchers will assess the projectÂ’s capability to automate the operations of the battery energy storage system and integrate its use into the utility grid.

Doug Kim, SCE’s director of advanced technology, said that the project is a significant milestone for California, SCE and the energy storage industry as a whole. "Grid-scale energy storage is an integral part of our company’s Storage Portfolio Development Framework that will contribute to optimizing grid performance and integrating more renewable energy resources," said Kim.

"This demonstration project will give us a significant amount of insight into the operational capabilities of large-scale, lithium-ion battery storage."

LG Chem has supplied the battery system, using the same lithium-ion cells installed in the Chevrolet Volt automobile from General Motors. The project’s primary goal will be to demonstrate the effectiveness of lithium-ion batteries on smart inverter technologies in order to deliver improved grid performance.