US power generator Vistra receives permit for 1.1GW battery storage

Matthew Farmer 14 August 2020 (Last Updated August 14th, 2020 16:40)

US power generation company Vistra has received permission to expand an energy storage facility to become one of the world’s largest.

US power generator Vistra receives permit for 1.1GW battery storage
Vistra will have the largest combined battery capacity in the US using Tesla Li-ion cells. Credit: Alexis Georgeson – Tesla.

US power generation company Vistra has received permission to expand an battery facility to become one of the world’s largest energy stores.

The company operates the Moss Landing gas-fired power plant in California, US. It has applied for multiple phases of energy storage development there, with the most recent having a throughput of 1.1GW and storage of 4.4GWh.

According to S&P Global Market Intelligence, Vistra has received approval for this expansion. However, president and CEO Curt Morgan said the development would happen only if “market and economic conditions support it”.

In June 2018, Vistra announced plans for the first phase of energy storage at the plant. The company signed a 20-year resource adequacy contract with Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) to develop a 300MW/1.2GWh storage system. This development has remained on target through Covid-19 for commissioning in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The second, smaller phase received approval in May this year. The company plans to commission this 100MW/400MWh development in August 2021.

Morgan said: “Our Moss Landing site provides a unique opportunity for extensive battery development with its existing infrastructure and the physical space needed for even more potential growth. Utilising our existing power plant sites allows us to cost-competitively develop renewable and battery storage assets as we rotate our power generation portfolio toward carbon-free technologies.”

Vistra could control more than 40% of US battery storage

According to analyst firm WoodMackenzie, the US had a total of 1.7GW of storage throughput at the end of 2019.

Along with its battery storage facility in Oakland, Vistra will have a total of 1536MW/6145MWh of energy storage across California alone.

Electric vehicle and power storage company Tesla will provide the Li-ion batteries for this development.

Tesla recently announced it will work on another massive battery storage system in Moss Landing, in conjunction by PG&E. On 29 July, the companies broke ground on the development of a 182.5MW/730MWh energy storage project. The companies have agreed to develop up to 1.2GWh on the site, using 256 of Tesla’s Megapack batteries.

PG&E will own this site, with senior vice president Fong Wan saying: “[Battery energy] can serve as an alternative to more expensive, traditional wires solutions, resulting in lower overall costs for our customers. The scale, purpose and flexibility of the Moss Landing Megapack system make it a landmark in the development and deployment of utility-scale batteries.”

The largest operational energy storage facility forms part of the Hornsdale Power Station in Australia, according to the US Department of Energy storage database. This has a capacity of 150MW/180MWh, which in turn is far above the second largest installation of 50MW/50MWh at Stocking Pelham Power Station in the UK.