In the Mojave Desert about two hours from Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's new $25.6 million utility-scale battery storage project is providing valuable information for the public power utility's plans to improve integration of solar power and reduce the need for natural gas to maintain electric reliability.
Doosan Gridtech, which installed the 20-MW lithium-ion system last fall at LADWP's Beacon Solar Plant and in an area where several hundred megawatts of solar energy are located, says that the project is performing as expected. Doosan built the project to withstand the desert's harsh conditions.
"This project is a little different in that this is transmission connected instead of distribution connected," said Doosan power systems engineer Anna Edwards. That means, she said, the storage system is close to "where you would typically have your generation" as opposed to being in the city where the storage systems are more closely located near the serving customer load.
According to LADWP general manager David Wright, the Beacon project is unique in that it will be an integral part of the public power utility’s ability to meet its long-term clean energy goals and mandates as well as diversify LADWP's portfolio of energy storage technologies while maintaining reliability and keeping electricity rates low for its customers.
LADWP is using the Beacon battery energy storage system to enhance reliability with renewable energy integration and meet reliability standards set by the North American Electric Reliability Corp. such as frequency response obligation.
LADWP said the public power utility is still learning how to use the battery storage system and its software in the most economical way.
For the Beacon battery project, the public power utility evaluated several proposals. The utility is currently negotiating with multiple vendors to integrate new solar and energy storage projects at the transmission level. In addition to the Beacon energy storage project, LADWP also installed 138 kW of lithium-ion battery at its owned facilities and a fire station. Additionally, LADWP has integrated a total of 1.52 MW of lithium-ion batteries and 10 MW of thermal energy storage at customer locations.
Furthermore, LADWP is working with other city agencies to install energy storage at other Los Angeles city-owned facilities.
Currently, LADWP is constructing two different types of 100-kW batteries systems -- a lithium-ion and a vanadium flow batteries -- at their downtown headquarters. LADWP said this research project will help not only to determine appropriate battery applications from each type of battery technology.
LADWP's service area has 1,297 MW of energy storage with combined technology such as pump energy storage, battery energy storage and thermal energy storage. The bulk of the utility’s energy storage comes from the Castaic Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Plant and the capacity storage was recently increased by 21 MW with a total capability of 1,265 MW. LADWP added that the public power utility is actively exploring the addition of more energy storage systems to achieve 1,648 MW by 2025.