One of the biggest challenges of switching to clean energy sources is finding a place to store excess power. That’s relatively easy on a small scale, but it’s much more daunting for your utility company. Southern California Edison is apparently ready to take on that challenge, however. It just launched the Tehachapi Energy Storage Project, a large-scale experiment in using lithium-ion batteries to preserve unused electricity. For the next two years, the 32 megawatt-hours array will scoop up leftover energy from nearby sources, including a wind turbine area; SCE will be watching closely to see how the lithium-ion packs improve its grid’s real world performance.
For Southern California Edison (SCE), building a smarter grid started many years ago with smart meters and upgrades in distribution equipment. Today, the company takes another leap forward with the opening of the largest battery energy storage project in North America — the Tehachapi Energy Storage Project — to modernize the grid to integrate more clean energy. The demonstration project is funded by SCE and federal stimulus money awarded by the Department of Energy as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The 32 megawatt-hours battery energy storage system features lithium-ion batteries housed inside a 6,300 square-foot facility at SCE’s Monolith substation in Tehachapi, Calif. The project is strategically located in the Tehachapi Wind Resource Area that is projected to generate up to 4,500 MW of wind energy by 2016. “This installation will allow us to take a serious look at the technological capabilities of energy storage on the electric grid,” said Dr. Imre Gyuk, energy storage program manager in the energy department’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. “It will also help us to gain a better understanding of the value and benefit of battery energy storage.”