Big Batteries Booming

April 3, 2019

Renewable Energy World:

Florida Power & Light is vowing to go global-scale on a new solar and energy storage combination.

The unit of NextEra Energy announced plans to build a 409-MW energy storage facility in Manatee County. FPL says the Manatee Energy Storage Center will be the world’s largest solar-power battery system by four-fold.

Manatee, once it’s completed in late 2021, will be charged by a nearby FPL solar power plant. The company says the plan to discharge batteries during times of higher demand will offset the need to run other power plants, thus reducing emissions and saving customers as much as $100 million through avoided fuel costs.

“This is a monumental milestone in realizing the full benefits of solar power and yet another example of how FPL is working hard to position Florida as the global gold standard for clean energy,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. “Even as we aggressively execute on our plan to install 30 million solar panels by 2030, we never lose sight of finding innovative ways to bring our customers the benefits of solar energy, even when the sun’s not shining. Replacing a large, aging fossil fuel plant with a mega battery that’s adjacent to a large solar plant is another world-first accomplishment and while I’m very pleased of that fact, what I’m most proud of is that our team remained committed to developing this clean energy breakthrough while saving customers money and keeping their bills among the lowest in the nation.”

Florida Power & Light’s plan is to accelerate the retirements of two nearby 1970s-era gas-fired generation units, while planning to install smaller battery systems across the state. At peak efficiency, the Manatee energy storage system could power 390,000 homes for up to two hours.

Last year, FPL added a 10 MW/40-MWh battery storage project into operations at its 74.5-MW Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center in Charlotte County. Babcock Ranch was built in 2016.

51 Responses to “Big Batteries Booming”

  1. mboli Says:

    What does a “409-MW energy storage facility” mean?
    Is it sloppy shorthand for 409 megawatt-hours?
    Does it mean a storage facility that can source 409 megawatts for 1 second?

    • dumboldguy Says:

      The way we talk about work-power-energy uses some confusing terms. You go from newton-meters to joules to watts. IMO, the way they’re using it is that the facility can store 409 MW of electrical power. The RATE at which that power is used is expressed in MWh. If it were all used up in one second, it would be 60 x 60 x 409 = 1,472,400 MWseconds. Draw it down over 1 hour and it would be enough to meet the needs of perhaps 350,00- to 400, 000 homes.

      (and now I’m confused—-someone please check my math)

    • Brent Jensen-Schmidt Says:

      A chronic aggravation, and suspect occasionally used to provide a large impressive but basically meaningless number. Often just slakness too of course.

    • Sir Charles Says:

      409 MW/900 MWh

      Just compare it with the Ludington Pumped Storage Power Plant. I think it’s the second largest PHES station in the US.

      Installed capacity (maximum output): 2,172 MW

      Storage capacity: 9 hours (19,548 MWh)

      So the Manatee Energy Storage Center is quite a biggie for a battery station.

      • mboli Says:

        Agreed! I was surprised when I saw that 900 MWh.

        The wikipedia entry for the Ludington station reads a little funny. The lower reservoir is Lake Michigan. And then the page dutifully provides the specifications for the lower reservoir: capacity, area, dimensions, etc.

  2. dumboldguy Says:

    It’s good to see such big battery arrays popping up. As opposed to pie-in-the-sky scams like storing energy in mine shafts by hanging weights in them, or the even more laughable idea to send up balloons and hang weights from them.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Ah yes, the linked piece says “COULD be cheaper” and shows a CGI image of an installation that doesn’t exist. No pie-in-the-sky there! Where do we buy stock?

      • mboli Says:

        Really cool! Thanks for that “gravitricity” explanation. The more I contemplate it, the more reasons why it seems like an attractive idea. They could be installed almost anywhere that isn’t geologically active, comparatively small footprint, less reliance on rare metals and chemicals than batteries (but still needs magnets).

        On a symbolic level, it is a nice vision to compare with the Permian Basin, dotted everywhere with stripper wells.

        • Sir Charles Says:

          Indeed a reasonable solution where applicable.

        • mboli Says:

          Heck, it should even work with flooded shafts, water being a primary issue with holes. As long as the weight is more dense than water, it wouldn’t store as much energy but it should work, right?

          • Sir Charles Says:

            Let’s say you use concrete block which has a weight of 2400 kg per cubic meter.

            If you sink your cubic meter of concrete into air (1.2 kg per cubic meter) you have virtually the full weight of the 2.4 metric tons which can be used for the storage of your energy.

            But if you sink your cubic meter of concrete into water (1000 kg per cubic meter) you have only 1.4 metric tons left to do the work for you + you have more friction.

            So you’re losing at least 42% of your power and capacity.

        • dumboldguy Says:

          Don’t get too excited about gravity storage, MB—-there isn’t a working site anywhere in the world. And there are good reasons for that, cost and scale among them.

          Excerpts from one of the companies that wants to take your money. It’s a well-done site—-lots of info and “pie-in-th-sky”, but nowhere does it have info about a working installation.

          “The capacity of energy storage reaches 8 GWh or more, comparable to large Pumped Hydro Storage”.

          “The rock piston should have a diameter of at least 100 meters in order to be competitive with pumped storage power plants. The real costs will vary for each site. But we calculate with costs of about 200 USD/kWh capacity at a size of 250-meter diameter”.

          Can you visualize a piston of even 100 m in diameter, never mind 250 m? With all those hydro sites, no one is going to bother with this idea.

          • mboli Says:

            Are you claiming that a 100m piston has a larger geographic footprint than an equivalent dam with two reservoirs? If you have trouble visualizing it, can you visualize four 50m pistons?

          • dumboldguy Says:

            Of course the “footprint” of the two reservoirs is larger, but they ARE only two lakes connected by some pipes, NOT a truly HUGE block of stone or concrete that occupies a vertical tunnel in the ground.. Look again at the Heidl site—-they are the ones who want to make money building them and they said “The rock piston should have a diameter of at least 100 meters in order to be competitive with pumped storage power plants”, and they give costs for the even bigger 250 m in diameter, their preferred size.

            “If you have trouble visualizing it, can you visualize four 50m pistons?” Sure, much easier to “visualize”, but so cost-ineffective that they won’t be built.

            Can YOU visualize a solid “plug” as big or bigger in area than the ENTIRE field area of a baseball or football stadium moving nicely up and down in a vertical shaft hundreds of meters? How many sites do you think can be found to accommodate that>

            Go to the Heindl site and look at the engineering problems. Like I said, if you’re looking to invest, it’s hardly better than Solar Roadway.

          • Sir Charles Says:

            It would be eight pistons. 2^3

  3. Sir Charles Says:

    I believe there’s no one silver bullet when it comes to storage. There rather are plenty of opportunities which all have their own potential, depending on the terrain, the availability of resources and the specific purpose.

  4. redskylite Says:

    Positive news from IRENA – One third of the world’d power plant capacity is from renewable energy. .

    One-third of the world’s installed electricity generation capacity is from renewable sources, according to the latest industry statistics.

    The data compiled by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) shows that two-thirds of the power capacity added around the world in 2018 was from renewables. Wind and solar accounted for 84% of that total.

    • Sir Charles Says:

      Unfortunately, installed capacity doesn’t equal to overall generation as different energy sources show different capacity factors. The best capacity factors so far you get from hydro (80%+) and offshore wind (60%+). Solar is far behind, but has other advantages.

  5. redskylite Says:

    Why lithium-ion technology is poised to dominate the energy storage future

    “The batteries pouring from new factories in China, the U.S., Thailand and elsewhere will further drive down prices, which have already plunged 85 percent since 2010. And the billions spent on factories will create a powerful incentive for the industry to keep tweaking lithium-ion technology, improving it bit by bit, rather than adopting something else.”

  6. redskylite Says:

    Industrial leaders partnering to develop micro-grids . . .

    ABB and Rolls-Royce announce global microgrids partnership, battery storage has changed the game for microgrid operations:

    “Rolls-Royce Power Systems has announced that it will partner with Swiss-Swedish multinational technology company ABB on microgrid technology and advanced automation. The two companies hope to create an energy-efficient microgrid solution for commercial and industrial companies.

    ABB will utilise the Ability e-mesh solution, a technological system that will help to reduce operational costs. The systems cloud operations will also use weather and load forecasts, along with machine learning algorithms, to increase revenue streams.

    Rolls-Royce’s MTU Onsite Energy brand power system solution, which allows for standby and continuous power for microgrids, will also form a cornerstone of the partnership.

    Rolls-Royce CEO Andreas Schell said: “Due to the transformation towards decarbonisation, customers need to pursue sustainable power options that also deliver utmost profitability. For this, we rely primarily on microgrids, which are autonomous energy supply systems that are efficient, reliable, and environmentally friendly. ”

  7. redskylite Says:

    Food for thought – by an optimistic economist (afraid the age group counts me out for seeing the CO2 climb reverse – wish I could see it happen)

    Can we do it in our lifetime? Well, I guess it depends how old you are. If you are 50 or under, yes I think we can do it in our lifetime. Ideally we’d go faster than that. We do know how to do it; it looks enormously attractive. So we have to get on with it.

  8. Richard Seymour Says:

    Ummm…. just out of curiosity, how much is that battery bank going to cost?
    (so one can better estimate the return on investment that “$100 million” (per year? decade?) of fuel savings will give)

    The full press releases doesn’t mention it:

  9. mboli Says:

    Pumped storage seems to have caught the popular imagination. And it is hardly an unproven technology, a point in its favor.

    My question is: when did “dam” become “environmentally benign?”

    Dams have fairly large footprints, and not long ago there was a substantial environmental movement in the US to reduce the number of dams.

    Adding more pumped storage might well be a goodness. But it is hardly a cure-all.

    • Sir Charles Says:

      True. There is no single silver bullet. We need to foster any technology which helps transforming our systems towards renewable energy ASAP.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      “Dam” has never become truly “environmentally benign”—although many give benefits from generating electricity, holding back flood waters, providing irrigation, etc, all have negative impacts as well. Destruction of wildlife habitat and displacement of humans when they are built, among others. Just finished an interesting book—UNRULY WATERS: HOW RIVERS, COASTS, AND SEAS HAVE SHAPED ASIA’S HISTORY, by Sunil Amrith, Basic Books, 2018. Some surprising facts about how India and China in particular have dealt with water in the past and where they are likely headed—-a rather grim picture in all.

      But that’s a topic for another discussion. The “dams” needed for pumped storage are a different animal. They are neither as big nor as disruptive as the typical dam on a river. There was (and still is) only one pumped storage site in my home state of NJ.

      Located on top of a “mountain” near the Delaware river, it has been there for over 50 years and just keeps chugging along. There are virtually no other suitable sited in NJ that could be developed economically and/or without major protest. It has been well-received (except, apparently, by the local porcupines). But you and Chucky are correct, pumped storage is NOT a cure-all, just another ingredient in the pot, where suitable.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      not always the same as a “dam”. Some pumped storage is using old quarries and mines in mountainous areas.
      Agree they have impacts – but if even a small fraction of the set mentioned above is viable, it has a potential positive role.

  10. Sir Charles Says:

    You can do the maths yourself.
    1Wh (Watt hour) = 3600Nm (Newton metres)
    9.81N (Newton earth) = 1kg

    For example you have 1 metric ton of weight (1 cubic metre of water) = 1,000kg which equals to 9,810N, and a usable height of 100m (metres).

    9,810N * 100m / 3600 = 272.5 Wh storage capacity

    You would have to account for losses in the generator and the motor and for friction. So if you multiply that with 0.85 (85% efficiency for modern PHES) you will end up with roughly 0.23 kWh storage capacity. Solid storage might provide a slightly better efficiency as your weight doesn’t have to move through propelling turbines.

    Multiply that with your metric tons and/or your hundreds of metres of height and you come to your desired result. For concrete multiply the cubic metres with 2.4. Concrete has about 2.4 times the specific weight of water.

    The speed of the falling matter determines the output in Watts (W) which is of course limited by the maximum power of the generator.

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