Battery storage as peaking capacity: How Alamitos changed the game for California
When it was first proposed in 2014, at 100MW / 400MWh, Alamitos Battery Energy Storage System was the world’s biggest contracted battery project. By the time it came online as scheduled on 1 January 2021 — after a construction period which began in 2019 — it could no longer take that crown, although it is certainly still one of the biggest around.
However, Alamitos was and remains historic for another, arguably even more significant reason. It represents the first time that battery storage has directly come up against natural gas in a competitive solicitation process and won. California investor-owned utility (IOU) Southern California Edison (SCE) picked out the plan designed by power producer AES Corporation as a means of providing essential local capacity following the shutdown of the San Ofre nuclear power plant (see timeline, p.92).
The utility put out an all-source procurement to find 2,200MW of capacity to replace San Ofre’s in its energy mix and from a minimum expectation that about 50MW of that would come from battery storage, SCE actually made 235MW of awards. Alongside 135MW of behind-the-meter energy storage, AES Corporation’s front-of-meter Alamitos project won out.
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