SCE Unveils America’s Largest Battery Energy Storage Site

OCT 11 2014 BY MARK KANE 21

The proposed Tehachapi Wind Energy Resource Area BESS facility. The unmanned 6,300 square-foot facility contains batteries, transformers, power conversion systems, and communication and interface equipment.

The proposed Tehachapi Wind Energy Resource Area BESS facility. The unmanned 6,300 square-foot facility contains batteries, transformers, power conversion systems, and communication and interface equipment.

Southern California Edison (SCE) unveiled the largest battery energy storage system in North America – the Tehachapi Energy Storage Project located in the Tehachapi Wind Resource Area in Tehachapi, Calif.

The 6,300 square-foot facility houses 32 MWh of lithium-ion batteries with an aim to integrate more clean energy.

Total cost of this ESS amounted to $50 million and was covered partially by the Department of Energy. This translates to more than $1,500 per kWh.

“The project costs about $50 million with matching funds from SCE and the energy department. Over a two-year period, the project will demonstrate the performance of the lithium-ion batteries in actual system conditions and the capability to automate the operations of the battery energy storage system and integrate its use into the utility grid.”

“Primary goals of the project are to demonstrate the effectiveness of lithium-on battery and smart inverter technologies for improved grid performance and to assist in the integration of variable renewable energy resources like wind and solar power.”

Dr. Imre Gyuk, energy storage program manager in the energy department’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability stated:

“This installation will allow us to take a serious look at the technological capabilities of energy storage on the electric grid. It will also help us to gain a better understanding of the value and benefit of battery energy storage.”

Doug Kim, director of Advanced Technology at SCE remarked:

“The Tehachapi Energy Storage Project is a significant milestone for SCE and for energy storage in California. 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. This demonstration project will give us a significant amount of insight into the operational capabilities of large-scale, lithium-ion battery storage.”

And now the most important part for us – batteries. Batteries were supplied by LG Chem and, according to the press release, those are the same battery cells as in the Chevrolet Volt. At 32 MWh it is comparable to nearly 1,900 2015 Chevy Volts (17.1 kWh).

“The battery system supplied by LG Chem is comprised of 604 battery racks, 10,872 battery modules and 608,832 individual battery cells – the same lithium-ion cells installed in battery packs for General Motors’ Chevrolet Volt.”

Sung-Hoon Jang, vice president of the Energy Solution Company at LG Chem stated:

“The successful commissioning of the Tehachapi Storage Project marks a key milestone for LG Chem in delivering large-scale energy storage solutions. As a turnkey solutions provider, LG Chem looks forward to its continued collaboration with SCE during the next two years of system operation. The role of energy storage in the electric grid will continue to increase with the growth of renewable energy and distributed energy systems and our collaboration with SCE will provide key insights for current and future energy storage projects.”

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21 Comments on "SCE Unveils America’s Largest Battery Energy Storage Site"

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LG Chem doing ‘Gigastorage?’ 😉

Tesla’s Fremont Factory has 8 MWh energy storage. It will probably be expanded in near future. Perhaps above 32 MWh capacity.

I know this that Tesla will expand their grid storage system beyond 32 MWh, because Tesla for sure will not leave its chance to install the Biggest grid storage system in North America and subsequently to swim in free publicity as all media is making a headlines of it. People just love superlatives especially if they are associated into Tesla and Elon Musk. And for return, Tesla gets very valuable free advertisement for their grid storage solutions.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

$1500/kWh? I wonder how much of that is actual cell assemblies vs. land, infrastructure, and graft?

I can’t wait for them to scale up to a Gigagraft battery energy storage system.


Using that same calculation and combining cost of the entire car with the battery, the battery in the $35k Leaf SL would cost $1,458/kWh.

If you say the Volt battery is good for 100,000 miles then that means it has a cycle life of 1701 cycles .

At a 1 per day discharge cycle for this facility that gives a life expectancy of 4.7 years.

If the Volt’s battery is designed for 150000 miles then that gives this energy storage facility a life of 7 years.

Shelf life is somewhere around 10 years I believe. I bet this storage facility has a design life of 10 years.

That means the Volt battery is good for 200,000 miles.

Very conservative design.

Compelling value as a used vehicle.

Shelf life is more important for batteries than cycle life. Typically the cycle life refers to full discharges, and then it is around 2000 for Volt batteries. But with e.g. with 60 % discharge, the cycle life is practically infinite or > 10 000.

But the problem is the second law of thermodynamics that is not going to do good for batteries. And therefore the shelf life of battery storage is around 10 years with capacity > 80 %. Therefore we can assume well over 10 year service life for this facility and naturally it can be expanded in the future. As infrastructure is already in place, the expansion is naturally cheaper.

And this shut is keeping battery prices high.

This isn’t the big technological breakthrough it seems. Before the advent of AC network service in downtown areas (Buffalo, NY had a large DC network in the 1 square mile area downtown prior to the current AC network installed from 1934-1938 – it took awhile since the great depression was ongoing, and every motor in every building had to be changed out). The reliability of the DC network was ensured by batteries at the substation, and there were many of them with batteries (some substations had motor-generator sets only to generate the DC and relied on neighboring substations with batteries to provide the emergency lighting. I remember reading a caption in an old 1920’s electrical book saying “This battery can supply 20,000 amperes at 125/250 volts for 4 hours.”. That’s a mere 20 MWH, which granted is less than 32 here, but then in one medium size city there were around TEN 20 MWH substation batteries and it was not considered a big deal. Larger customers tried to avoid the DC system or, make their own DC, since the local power company Buffalo General Electric, charged 50% more than the alternative, which was 2400 volt 3 phase 25 HZ. Interestingly… Read more »

That is good point. Perhaps we were so used to our old grid that we did not realize that frequency regulation should have been done already several years ago with batteries rather than expensive peaking generators.

Of course we have here conflict of interests that peaking generators were keeping the peaking electricity price level high. And therefore utilities did not have motivation to invest cheaper battery based frequency regulation.

This of course has now changed, because renewables changed the peak electricity generation economics and we are now forced to design new kind of economics for the grid. Enter the Smart Grid!

Well, I and many others are against the smart grid, since my utility wants to implement it with a RATE INCREASE, and they also say that conversion over to a “Smart Grid” will not improve service. So why would anyone in their right mind want it? I definitely do not want my rates increased, and a neighboring utility in the State of Massachusetts has also gone on record as being against implementation of a Smart Grid, since they claim everything that needs to be done to tolerate windmills and solar panels can be done the old-fashioned way. This is not to say they’re against all advances.. Obviously the relatively low implementation cost “self healing distribution network”, while not being necessarily part of a Smart Grid, will pay for itself in better service. Actually, back 100 years ago, no one really WANTED to use batteries. They were merely used to provide absolute reliability during any power failures of the main lines. And they were replaced during the 1930’s in almost all big cities with the AC network, due to the simple invention of the Network Protector, which isolated feeders (and the back feeding problem) from excess reverse power flow/circulating currents. The… Read more »

As an aside, Jay Leno’s Baker Electric “EVSE” could ONLY be used in public downtown areas (which had an Edison DC Network supplying the public outlets, along with all the dept stores and print shops and barber shops and grocers, etc), since it was basically only an adjustable resistance (looked like an old-school radiant room heater, which it did do if ran inside), by dropping the charging voltage from 125 (or whatever it was at the outlet, probably more like 115) to 80 volts or so depending on the state of charge of his car’s batteries. No rectification was needed since the source was already DC.

So, this has as much batteries equal to 1900 Volts? Let’s say all the Volts in the US (about 70K) get a battery upgrade to 80 miles in two years. That means someone can build 36 of this storage vacilities with the used volt batteries! Would be 1.15 gigawatts in all (sadly not the 1.21 needed for time travel).

I wonder how many times a day these batteries are cycled. If we assume they last 4000 days (~10 years) and are cycled twice a day that means that every KWh of capacity ends up being used 8000 times meaning the capital cost alone of this facility would add $0.18/KWh to the cost of electricity.

I wonder what sort of cost Tesla can achieve once it enters this business.

That’s probably 10 times more than is acceptable but obviously the number is mostly a WAG.

And about 200 miles north of Tehachapi is the helms PSH plant, with 1212MW of storage, build in 1984:

So at 38 times the amount of storage of this plant, we assume it would take 1.9 Billon dollars to equal what they built back in 1984 at a cost of $900 million (actually closer than I thought):

Turns out its also drought-proof, see same article.

Just not as sexy as batteries I guess…

I think you’re confusing power (MW) with energy storage (MWh). The Helms PHS plant can generate 1212 MW of power with its 3 x 404 MW pump turbines. Neither the Wikipedia article nor its sources list the usable energy storage capacity in MWh of the Helms PHS plant.

Good point. Do you have an answer?

Quite a bit of storage. But you have to remember Helms is intended to generate electricity for only a couple of hours a day using a small percentage of it’s storage, and then at night it pumps back water to the upper reservoir. However, in an emergency Helms can use all it’s storage, taking 14 days straight to drain it’s upper reservoir. Short answer: 7.27 GWh average daily storage, 14.54 GWh maximum daily storage, and up to 407.2 GWh emergency total storage capacity. Long answer and calculations are below. Pumped storage at Helms is always given as 1212 MW or 1.2 GW (power) since it’s designed to be a peak generating plant, intended to compliment the base-load Diablo Canyon nuclear plant running 24/7 and storing its unused power at night. Helms was planned to generate electricity 6 hours a day with variations from 4 to 12 hours as system demands require. Thus, Helms was intended to use only a small part of it’s energy storage capacity to meet daily peak electricity demand. This is the reason why you don’t see published KWh/GWh capacity listings for Helms. However, if needed in an EMERGENCY Helms can drain it’s upper reservoir and run… Read more »


6 hour daily operation with 4 to 12 hour variations – PDF page 96 of 517, report page 2-48:

I can’t find the article just now, but I remember a story a while back about a 90 MW Wind Farm, mixed with 32 MHh if Battery Storage, I think using the A123M1 Cells, situated in a collection of Shipping Containers, so this would not be the first Storage Unit of such a size, if I have the story right!