SoCal Edison Wants New Grid Batteries for ‘Just-in-Time’ Delivery
California utility issues RFP for plug-and-play storage systems to fill broader range of grid needs
Someday, grid batteries will come in standard packages, ready to be plugged in as fast as utilities can find places and use cases for them. At least, that’s how utility Southern California Edison would like its next round of energy storage systems to be delivered.
Under a groundbreaking request for proposals (RFP) issued this week, SCE is calling for battery vendors to build “pre-engineered” storage systems, between 1 megawatt-hours and 16 megawatt-hours in size, that can be built, shipped, installed and up and running within 7 months of being contracted.
SCE says it needs this standardized packaging and quick turnaround to allow storage systems to fit into fast-changing distribution grid project-planning cycles. This is the same way that utilities order transformers and other standard grid gear today.
But for a grid storage industry that’s still moving from the pilot-project phase of development to broader commercial markets, it’s a novel concept. In fact, SCE’s new RFP may be the first time a utility has asked for this kind of arrangement for batteries, Mark Irwin, a director in SCE’s advanced technology department, said in a Wednesday interview.
“I think it’s the first time anyone has done what you’d call a framework agreement for energy storage purchasing,” he said. Under a framework agreement, a utility will ask vendors to compete for the role of serving as equipment provider for a less well-defined set of future projects, and then call upon the winning vendors to deliver the equipment as those plans solidify.