On January 30, Tesla Motors announced the opening of a massive battery storage facility in California, one of three such facilities constructed under what is being called "The Powerpack project", in partnership with electrical utility provider Southern California Edison (SCE). With the addition of the two other facilities, being built by AES Corp. and Altagas Ltd., the three plants will amount to 15 percent of the world’s battery-storage capacity installed last year.
The intent of assembling such a massive amount of electrical storage is to allow electrical utility companies to avoid having to fall back on fossil fuels to generate power during times of peak demand, a necessary step for the successful transition to more carbon-friendly energy sources.
The two most popular sources of renewable energy — wind and solar — have the unfortunate drawbacks of not having 100 percent uptime: solar generation can only provide power during the day, and both sources are at the mercy of the weather, as clouds can also hamper solar facilities, and wind turbines fail if there’s no wind. Needless to say, our demand for electricity does not bend with the wind, nor the turning of the planet — meaning that interim storage will be a necessity for these sources if they are to replace fossil fuels.
"Storage is a piece that’s been missing on the grid since the grid was invented, so thanks to these technologies, we’re right at the turning point of being able to deliver storage and use renewables — solar, wind, and others — that can power people’s needs for longer parts of the day," explains Tesla’s Chief Technology Officer, JB Straubel.
The project, commissioned due to shortfalls caused by the massive methane leak at the Aliso Canyon storage facility that wasn’t capped until February of last year, was completed in an extremely short amount of time — in just under six months — with construction crews working ’round the clock to install Li-Ion battery units from Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada.