Tesla has just completed an 80 MWh battery station for Southern California Edison. This battery station is located at the Mira Loma substation in Ontario, California.
Along with manufacturing vehicles and solar cells, Tesla Motors is well known for producing tremendous numbers of batteries. With Tesla about to release its long-awaited mass market fully electric vehicle, the Model 3, Tesla needs to produce more batteries than any company has ever produced before. To do this Tesla is building a battery “Gigafactory” in Nevada. When completed, it will produce more battery storage capacity per year than the entire world produced in 2014. Primarily as a consequence of the massive economies of scale of such a building, Tesla will be able to produce batteries for far less money.
However, falling battery prices do not only benefit electric cars. As batteries become cheap enough they also become an important method of balancing load for the electric grid. Since the demand for electricity various greatly throughout a day electric grids typically make use of natural gas powered “peaker plants” to balance their loads. Yet while these power plants are quick at adapting, batteries are even faster. Batteries are also safer and emit zero greenhouse gasses. Therefore with the falling cost of batteries, they will replace traditional peaker plants more and more.
Balancing load for the utility Southern California Edison is the purpose of this massive battery station. The 80 MWh energy capacity comes from 400 of Tesla’s new second generation Powerpacks. With all of this energy, the battery station could power over 2500 households for more than a day. Yet as previously mentioned this is not its purpose. Southern California Edison has over 15 million customers, and so this battery station will help stabilize the load for all of them.
This huge battery station was built after Southern California Edison started looking into different storage options following the shut down of the Aliso Canyon natural gas reservoir. This reservoir was the source for gas power plants in the region until a catastrophic failure in 2015 forced California Governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency.
Tesla has stated that it is in discussions with others for large battery projects. With falling battery prices these should become increasingly common.