NextEra Energy's 230MW battery storage system in California goes into operation

A 230MW battery energy storage system (BESS), deployed by NextEra Energy in California, opened today as part of a large-scale solar-plus-storage project.

The solar-plus-storage project was deployed on 94 acres in Riverside County, California, and the California Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which manages the land, announced on August 16 that the name Desert Sunlight battery energy storage system began Commercial Operation.

September 17, 2022

The 230MW of battery storage, deployed in conjunction with the existing operating Desert Sunlight solar farm, will store the renewable energy generated by the farm, whose power will be used to meet electricity demand during peak periods.

The company's project developer is Sunlight Storage, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, the California Bureau of Land Management said in a November approval document for the project.

NextEra Energy's filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission calls the project the Sunlight Storage Facility, which is 230MW/920MWh in size. The four-hour duration of battery storage is a requirement by the state's electricity regulator for utilities to deploy energy storage projects in California, the primary framework for grid operator California Independent System Operator (CAISO) to ensure supply meets demand, It is also the main source of income for battery energy storage projects.

The opening of the solar + energy storage project is good news for California, as the deployment of battery storage has slowed ahead of the peak summer power demand period and the high risk of wildfires could threaten the grid's reliability.

Official data shows that as of the end of July, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) had 3,334MW of grid-scale battery storage systems in commercial operation.

It's unclear if these figures include the Desert Sunligh battery storage system, which would bring the installed capacity of battery storage systems deployed and operating in California close to 3.6GW. As industry media reported, if Ameresco's 537.5MW/2,150MWh battery storage project had not been delayed, the number could have exceeded 4GW by now, in line with the grid operator's stated goals.

The California Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the government agency responsible for the management of federal lands in the United States, is a key agency in approving projects within its portfolio. Most recently, the agency's recent approvals of large-scale solar-plus-storage projects include a 250MW project by Revolve Renewable Power and a 500MW project by Oberon Solar.

The agency also encourages energy developers to build projects on lands it manages, and recently issued calls for proposals to build solar power projects on 90,000 acres of public lands in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico.

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