1 GW US West coast storage plans compressed air, hydrogen and flow

While there are comparable projects in Europe, the $1 billion battery project announced this week in the US is all the more surprising, for its scale, at a time when storage is most closely associated with renewables, an area where the US lags woefully.

The Advanced Clean Energy Storage project will launch in Utah, and eventually store 1 GW of energy, for an undisclosed duration. The companies behind it are Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) who will supply the power equipment and Magnum Development who brings access to a salt cavern close to the Intermountain Power Project, where it will be situated.

There is no Lithium Ion in sight here, but a mix of compressed air energy storage (CAES), flow batteries (we assume Vanadium), renewable hydrogen and solid-oxide fuel cells. Essentially this is as much about attaching intermittent renewables to the grid as it is offering overnight storage and potentially summer to winter storage.

While many companies believe that the way forward for the electricity grid is a redesign and modernization of what we have already, to better accommodate intermittent power resources, the simplest answer is to ensure that energy can be called upon within a second or so when there is a shortfall or AC frequency issue – so energy storage. The hydrogen issue has been popping up all over the energy landscape of late as the summer to winter answer for storage, and it is a matter of time before someone makes it economic.

The Utah project is designed to serve customers on the US West coast and Nevada which all have more renewable power generation than elsewhere in the US. The plans call for it being working by 2025, initially at 250 MW, and rising to 1.0 GW later.