PG&E’s 75MW Energy Storage Procurement to Test Flywheels, Zinc-Air Batteries
Some new technologies alongside lithium-ion in California’s latest big utility storage round
In choosing their first round of procurements to meet the state’s 1.3-gigawatts-by-2020 energy storage mandate, California’s big investor-owned utilities have largely stuck to tried-and-true lithium-ion batteries — until now. On Wednesday, Pacific Gas & Electric revealed contracts for 75 megawatts of storage that includes 20 megawatts of flywheels from startup Amber Kinetics and 10 megawatts of zinc-air batteries from Eos Energy Storage amidst the expected lithium-ion winners.
PG&E picked the winners from a list of applicants that added up to more than 50 times the amount of storage it first requested back in its December 2014 request for offers. It’s the utility’s first round of procurements mandated by AB 2514, the state law that set the 1.3-gigawatt requirement in place, and will be submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission for review and approval.
Lithium-ion batteries still make up the majority of the projects. They include a 30-megawatt system from NextEra Energy at its Golden Hills wind farm near Livermore, a 10-megawatt battery from Hecate Energy to support PG&E’s Molino substation near Sebastopol, and two more Hecate projects, 1 megawatt apiece, at two of the five strategic substations PG&E identified in its initial request for offers.
But its 20-megawatt procurement with Amber Kinetics is PG&E’s first foray into flywheels, the utility noted in its Wednesday announcement. Flywheels store energy in heavy, highly controlled, fast-spinning drums, and have usually been designed to deliver massive bursts of power over short durations.