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Edison and Tesla Joint Venture Opens World’s Largest Battery Storage Project


Southern California Edison and Tesla Motors Inc. joint venture opened the world’s largest battery storage project at the company’s Mira Loma substation located in Ontario. This gigantic battery storage grid is being hailed by regulators as a critical element to reducing dependence on fossil fuel.

This new grid at Mira Loma substation built specifically to cater to peak hour needs has about 400 Tesla PowerPack units arranged on a 1.5-acre area. This battery grid has the capacity to store enough energy to power 15,000 houses for four hours or 2,500 houses for an entire day.

This grid utilizes lithium-ion batteries to collect and store electricity during off-peak hours and during the nights. These batteries looking like huge white refrigerators then inject the stored electrons back into the grid for use during peak times.

Edison and Tesla had inked the joint venture deal during the month of September in an effort to make up for the shortfall of power triggered by the faltering operations of the natural gas storage facility at Aliso Canyon.

At a ribbon cutting ceremony to inaugurate the plant, California Public Utilities Commission’s President Michael Picker said that this plant has come up in an unprecedentedly short time.

He added that the speed at which innovations in the realm of electricity delivery is happening that his offices are also not able to keep track of the changes. Mr. Picker said, “The innovation taking place occurs faster than we can regulate.”

Other similar battery storage facilities are also in the offing in an effort to improve the efficiencies of storage plants and to reduce the release of pollutants that are an unavoidable part of natural gas storage facilities.

Other similar plants are being rolled out by joint ventures between AES Energy Storage and San Diego Gas and by Altagas and Greensmith Energy Partners. These upcoming projects are expected to add about 77.5 megawatts of energy storage facility to California’s electricity grid thereby helping to ease the peak hour demands.

California is currently operating under a mandate for producing half of its requisite energy through renewal sources such as wind and solar by the year 2030. The mandate also includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions to below 1990 levels which translate to 80% by 2050.

In the process of achieving these climate-change numbers, California was missing out the key element of having cost-effective facilities to store excess energy produced by wind and solar energy production plants for use during times when the sun and/or wind was not available for harnessing energy.

Storing harnessed energy for use in the future has always been a costly venture. However, experts are of the opinion that the times are changing and storage costs could reduce as both demand and competition increase.

Ravi Manghani, the director of GTM Research energy storage segment, said, “As the storage matures and the cost comes down further … more and more products will come online.”

Kevin Payne, the CEO of Southern California Edison said that the present project is not a pilot project but part of a vision to achieve clean energy targets for California.