New Mega Battery Plant in California Set to Enhance State’s Power Grid and Support Renewable Energy Goals

New Mega Battery Plant in California Set to Enhance State's Power Grid and Support Renewable Energy Goals

Calpine’s Nova Power Bank, a billion-dollar battery facility near Los Angeles, is poised to become one of the world’s largest, significantly strengthening California’s power grid by storing renewable energy for peak demand times and advancing the state’s ambitious climate objectives.

Set to become one of the world’s largest, a significant battery plant near Los Angeles will start operations later this year, bolstering California’s power grid during the crucial summer months and supporting the state’s ambitious environmental targets.

New Mega Battery Plant in California Set to Enhance State's Power Grid and Support Renewable Energy Goals

Located on the site of a former gas-fired power plant, Calpine’s billion-dollar Nova Power Bank will have the capacity to supply about 680,000 homes with power for up to four hours once fully charged. This addition is a substantial boost for California’s renewable energy sector, which already generates over a third of the state’s electricity.

The facility features a 680-megawatt lithium-ion battery bank, a significant development in a state that holds approximately 55% of the nation’s power storage capacity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Calpine plans to activate 620 MW of this capacity in two phases starting this summer, with the remaining 60 MW scheduled to come online by 2025.

Large-scale battery projects are increasingly common globally, with major installations in progress across California, Florida, Australia, the United Kingdom, and China. These massive storage systems are crucial for enhancing renewable energy use, allowing for electricity produced during peak solar and wind periods to be stored and used when demand spikes later in the day.

California, a leader in energy storage mandates, aims for about 50 gigawatts of battery storage by 2045 to achieve its goal of sourcing all electricity from carbon-free technologies, a significant jump from the current 7 GW.

Despite its traditional focus on gas plants, Calpine is developing approximately 2,000 MW of battery capacity. This shift comes as part of a broader trend in California, which has seen a dramatic increase in battery capacity since 2020 following rolling blackouts that prompted emergency procurements. During a heatwave in September two years later, battery storage accounted for 2.4% of the state’s electricity generation during peak evening hours, per the California Independent System Operator.

“This plant will help stabilize the grid, especially for reliability purposes,” stated Emily Precht, Calpine’s strategic origination manager, during a press conference in Menifee, California. “When people get home from work and they plug in their electric cars, turn on their dishwashers and air conditioners, there is a high demand for power, (but) not as much solar production. Having something that saves the power from the middle of the day (and) moves it to a higher demand period will help make the grid more resilient.”

According to Wood Mackenzie, a research firm, new U.S. grid storage installations increased by 98% last year, with a 30% growth anticipated this year. However, battery installations face challenges such as permitting hurdles and long interconnection queues, which can impede their expansion. Despite these challenges, they are set to play a crucial role in a state still heavily reliant on gas for more than half of its power needs.

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