JD Ross: Largest energy storage project in the world confirmed for Utah

Mitsubishi is managing a project to construct what is believed to be the biggest energy storage project in the world. The proposed project will be located on the salt plains of Utah on an area of land owned by Magnum Development

Whilst lithium-based products continue to remain the main choice for the large scale battery market, the new Advanced Clean Energy Storage (ACES) project will explore alternative competing technologies to conventional lithium systems. The site is believed to have an equivalent power rating of 1 GW.

The project includes a hydrogen storage section which represents a wider strategy by Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS). The business has constructed a gas turbine for power sites that is capable of operating effectively via a combination of natural gas and hydrogen. The business has also released a technology plan that envisages gas turbines operating solely on hydrogen. If the electrolysis used to develop the hydrogen is supported by renewable energy, then the hydrogen used can be viewed as a renewable source of energy.

Paul Browning, president and CEO of MHPS Americas explains that in California and various other states, coal-powered facilities are soon to be retired, meaning we need to prepare for the next stage of decarbonisation. Browning believes that utilising natural gas and storage is a top priority if we are to continue working towards 100% renewable energy. Browning refers to gas turbines powered with renewable hydrogen to a hydrogen storage salt facility as a highly efficient solution that can store and produce energy with zero emissions.

The planned site will be located next to the Intermountain Power Project providing good access to regional electricity connections. Based on the current development plans, the storage site will be capable of providing approximately 150,000 households in the U.S. with no seasonal disruptions.

The new storage site in Utah will include compressed air energy storage, solid oxide fuel cells and flow battery technology. Flow batteries act in a similar way to a traditional battery system but have an extended discharge period compared to lithium-based products, making it suitable for managing other variables aside from supporting the grid.

Large scale storage projects provide opportunities to store renewable energy generated when demand levels are low. In smaller projects, this stored potential energy is often wasted. Additional renewable energy entering the markets in Europe can often result in negative pricing. During the last month, the U.K. experienced a stage when wind sites were paid to stop producing energy as electricity market prices dropped so significantly.

Aside from influencing the market, energy storage provides multiple benefits to the wider energy market. The energy can be managed and transported back to the grid at specific frequencies to manage any fluctuations in expected frequency levels. Energy Storage also provides the added benefit of controlling the price impacts of sudden changes in demand on the network and offering a range of other services to grid operators.

Energy storage experts believe the new project will promote the benefits of energy storage and highlight how large scale storage facilities can support grid operators and encourage a movement towards clean energy development worldwide.

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