Electric utilities in California are moving quickly on battery-powered energy storage systems and while Southern California Edison is in the lead with several large projects recently, including a massive 80 MWh Tesla Powerpack station, Pacific Gas and Electric Co is also working on the deployment of the technology in Northern California.
PG&E just announced that it brought online a new 2 MWh project in Browns Valley – north of Sacramento.
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With a current capacity of 0.5 MW/2 MWh from 22 Tesla Powerpacks, it’s nowhere near the side of Tesla’s Kauai project or the Mira Loma Substation with Southern California Edison, but it’s scalable.
PG&E sees energy demand rising in Browns Valley and could scale the energy storage project as needed.
Mike Della Penna, PG&E’s project manager for the Browns Valley installation, told the San Francisco Chronicle:
“It’s pretty modular — you can scale up and down as you need.”
For now, it will be used to better manage peak demand and reduce the need for costly and polluting peaker plants.
The electric utility is also working with Tesla for higher capacity through distributed energy storage with Powerwalls in the homes of its customers in the Bay Area.
Tesla is about to start shipping its second generation Powerwall soon – more on that later – and the capacity could add up quickly for large utilities like PG&E.
If they can find ways to efficiently combine the capacity of energy storage in homes and compensate their customers appropriately, they will have to deploy less energy storage at their own substations, like this Powerpack project in Browns Valley.
More utilities are likely to offer plans for customers installing energy storage in their homes in the coming months and years. In the meantime, energy storage deployment will be more popular with utility-scale projects and for homeowners with solar installations.