The AES Alamitos plant celebrated the ribbon cutting this week of a new battery storage facility with the ability to hold up to 400 megawatt-hours of energy.
The storage of energy is one of the deciding factors in achieving California’s ambitious goal of transitioning to 100% carbon-free power sources by 2045.
“With the commissioning of the Alamitos BESS [Battery Energy Storage System], the state of California moves closer to its goal of a more sustainable and reliable energy future,” Mark Miller, AES Market Business Leader for California and AES Southland General Manager, said in a statement.
Sources of renewable energy are inconsistent by nature—the sun rises and sets, the wind doesn’t blow at the same strength at all times—making the capability to store energy for use during times of low supply and high demand a crucial part of the state’s energy transition.
Additionally, climate change and increasing population sizes have the potential to put more stress on the power grid, said Councilwoman Suzie Price, pointing to current power outages in the state of Texas caused by extreme weather.
“Getting ourselves prepared to remove some of the stressors on the grid is very important,” Price said. “And having this battery storage facility gets us closer to that goal.”
While the power plant and battery storage facility is housed in her district, Price said it will provide benefits to residents beyond just her own constituency. “The reach is going to be far beyond my district,” she said. “It’s going to serve the region.”
The company’s contract with Southern California Edison represents a historic milestone, being the first time a battery storage facility has been integrated into the local energy grid to meet demand during peak hours. This, according to AES, is a testament to the growing trust in the technology as a reliable source of energy.
“SCE sees a growing role for battery storage as California transitions to 100% clean renewable energy,” said William Walsh, SCE Vice President of Energy Procurement and Management. “Battery storage will help integrate wind and solar resources into our grid and improve reliability.”
The AES Alamitos battery storage system, which began operating in January, is contracted under a 20-year power purchase agreement with SCE.
The new system is part of a larger overhaul of the AES Alamitos power plant to replace the facility’s 1950s era steam generators with natural gas turbines and phase out its once-through-cooling system. The system, which uses ocean water to cool down steam used in the power generation process, is currently under a state mandate to be shut off in 2023.