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California plants prepares to build world’s largest lithium-ion battery

The power shortages, brown-outs, and rolling blackouts that have long plagued Los Angeles county during times of peak energy usage may soon be a thing of the past now that the region’s energy utility has signed on with battery-maker AES Southland to install a massive, 400MW auxiliary power solution. Currently, when peak energy demand outstrips production in Los Angeles, Southern California Edison has to turn on a series of “gas peaker” plants.

Battery power developer AES Southland has announced a contract with Southern California Edison to deliver a 400MW lithium ion battery-based energy storage facility that will be capable of providing 100MW of power for a total of four hours. For comparison, when the State Grid Corporation of China teamed up with electric car manufacturer BYD to build the largest battery in the world, the stated capacity was 36MWh — less than 1/10 the size of the SCE facility. That gap is so large it seems ridiculous, yet all available data points to this new facility as one of the largest, if not the largest lithium-ion battery storage facilities in the entire world. For all that, the new plant is just a fraction of the total generative capability that SCE selected from the proposed solutions. AES will also provide a 1284MW worth of cycle-gas fired generation capability, with other solutions contributing roughly 600MW. Total capacity to be built out is 1,892MW across 63 contracts. Of that amount, only 44MW is classified as renewable according to SCE’s own website.

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