Three massive battery storage plants-built by Tesla, AES Corp., and Altagas Ltd.-are all officially going live in southern California at about the same time. Any one of these projects would have been the largest battery storage facility ever built. Electric cars are largely responsible, increasing demand and requiring a new scale of manufacturing for the same battery cells used in grid storage.
California’s goal is considerable, but it’s dwarfed by Tesla’s ambition to single-handedly deliver 15 gigawatt hours of battery storage a year by the 2020s-enough to provide several nuclear power plants-worth of electricity to the grid during peak hours of demand.
Zahurancik is one of the pioneers of energy storage, having cobbled together profitable edge-case storage projects since 2008, when battery prices were 10 times higher than they are today.
The biggest thing that sets Tesla and AES apart is that Tesla is building the components of its storage units itself at the company’s Gigafactory in Reno, including battery cells with partner Panasonic, modules, and inverters.
For now, gas peaker plants still win out on price for projects that aren’t constrained by space, emissions, or urgency, said Ron Nichols, President of SCE, the California utility responsible for most of the biggest battery storage contracts.