San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has completed a second energy storage project in its home city, a 20-MW/80-MWh facility located in Kearny Mesa. Utility officials on March 29 said the new installation is part of California’s push toward 100% carbon-free electricity.
SDG&E in June 2021 completed the Top Gun Energy Storage project, a 30-MW/120-MWh facility in the Miramar area. Both projects are part of the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) market and available for dispatch across CAISO’s territory.
“Investing in advanced technologies like energy storage is critical to advancing our state’s and region’s aggressive climate goals, including getting to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, with the added benefit of building a more resilient energy grid,” said SDG&E CEO Caroline Winn in a statement. “Project by project, step by step, we are making progress toward a cleaner, safer and more reliable energy future.”
The Kearny Mesa facility, which came online earlier this month, was inaugurated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday attended by local officials and labor leaders along with SDG&E executives. The Kearny project features lithium-ion phosphate batteries, considered more economic and durable than lithium-ion batteries. Officials said the batteries are housed in 126 special storage cubes that support safe operation, including temperature sensors to detect anomalies. The cubes, which each hold 16 battery modules, also are fire retardant.
Utility officials did not disclose the cost of the Kearney project, citing California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) rules that keep project costs confidential for three years. The cost will be passed on to the utility’s customers.
Equivalent to 1,600 Teslas
SDG&E officials at Tuesday’s ceremony compared the facility to a Tesla vehicle. The Tesla Model 3 has a 50-kWh battery pack, and utility officials said the entire Kearny facility is the equivalent of 1,600 Teslas.
Scott Crider, SDG&E’s senior vice president of customer services and external affairs, said, “We have a goal to be net-zero of carbon emissions by 2045, and technologies like battery storage are going to be a central component of reaching that goal.”
SDG&E has other energy storage projects in its queue and expects to have about 145 MW of owned storage connected to the grid by the end of the year. The CPUC earlier this year authorized the utility to build three new energy storage facilities that would come online later this year, and in early 2023, totaling 161 MW/664 MWh of capacity.
The CPUC has directed California utilities to contract for additional generation capacity as part of its Emergency Reliability rulemaking. California officials have set targets to generate at least 60% of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030, and 100% from carbon-free sources by 2045.
CAISO officials have said the grid operator expects to have more than 2 GW of energy storage capacity ready for use this summer, a 10-fold increase over last year. CAISO has said California’s peak load on a hot summer day can reach about 40 GW.
—Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).