The world will witness an international ‘megashift’ towards energy storage – batteries in particular – within the next 10 years. That was the prediction made by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) in the summer of 2015. 

A year later, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) went a step further, estimating that he annual investment in energy storage systems will increase six-fold to $8.2bn (£6.7bn) in 2024, and to $250bn (£197bn) by 2040. This massive growth in energy storage – first in the utilities sector, and then among corporations seeking to reduce overheads –  will create a “fundamentally different” global power system, BNEF senior analyst Logan Goldie-Scot said at the time.

If 2016 was anything to go by, the energy storage megashift is already beginning to gather pace. The battery market has seen breath-taking levels of growth from utilities over the past 12 months, while non-utilities are increasingly realising that lithium-ion or flow storage systems can act as the perfect accompaniment to on-site renewable energy installations.



Here, edie has rounded up some of the biggest and best energy storage projects across the globe – most of which were installed or agreed in 2016 – which are together demonstrating the vast potential that this low-carbon innovation has to offer for the green economy.

1) Tesla’s giant energy storage system at Mira Loma substation, Los Angeles Basin, California, US

Size: 20MW/80MWh.

Providers: Tesla Motors, as part of a utility-owned storage project in Southern California Edison Co.’s Mira Loma’s substation.

Completion date: End of 2016.

Electric car-turned energy storage company Tesla has collaborated with Southern California Edison (SCE) Co to design and build this giant 20MW/80MWh lithium-ion battery system at the Mira Loma SCE substation.

Tesla, which won a competetive tendering process for the project, has designed the battery to help upgrade the city of Los Angeles’ energy storage capacity to offer a safer, renewables-based solution to power the area.

The single battery solution is being developed under Tesla’s utility and business energy storage brand Powerpack and will be constructed at the firm’s Nevada Gigafactory. Tesla claims this is the largest single lithium-ion battery in the world.

The Powerpack will charge itself using electricity from the grid during off-peak hours and deliver electricity during peak hours to help maintain the reliable operation of SCE’s electrical infrastructure – which supplies more than 15 million residents.

It is estimated that the system will hold enough energy to power more than 2,500 households for one day or to charge around 1000 Tesla vehicles. The battery will be shipped, installed and commissioned by the end of this year.

This solution is part of Los Angeles’ push for safe renewable energy storage following the Alison Canyon gas leak – a methane gas spill that released an unprecedented 1.6mlb (thousand pounds) of methane into the atmosphere and displaced 8,000 Californians.

2) Nissan’s vehicle-to-grid energy storage units at Cranfield Research Centre, UK

Size: Generation and capacity are as-yet-unknown as the project has not been fully implemented.

Providers: Nissan motor company and Enel.

Completion date: Ongoing

Japanese carmaker Nissan is introducing a ground-breaking new scheme that will allow consumers to sell energy stored in their electric cars back to the National Grid.

The project, which is the first of its kind in the UK, has seen Nissan partner with Italian energy company Enel to develop 100 new vehicle-to-grid (V2G) energy storage units to bring together vehicles, roads and energy networks in “complete synchronicity”.

The latest step in this project has seen the company’s research and development facilities in Cranfield fitted with the innovative V2G concept chargers, provided by multinational energy provider Enel.

The project marks an important step in Nissan’s grand plan to highlight how zero-emission vehicles can be connected with the grid to boost efficiencies – including the company’s own 100% electric Nissan Leaf and e-NV200 ranges.

Nissan believes the project could save £2.4bn in electricity costs by 2030 if fully integrated.

3) E.ON’s energy storage research facility at Willenhall substation, Wolverhampton, UK

Size: 2MW/1MWh

Provider: E.ON

Completion date: March 2016

Energy supplier E.ON has teamed up with German energy company Uniper and a university research group to develop and connect this giant battery-based energy storage research facility to the grid.

The £4m battery, located at Willenhall substation near Wolverhampton, was officially connected on 17 March and is one of the largest and fastest active energy storage facilities in the UK.

The plant utilises a single 2MW lithium titanate battery from Toshiba which can supply enough energy to power 3,000 homes for 20 minutes. The lithium titanate technology was selected due to its fast charge and discharge capabilities. Additionally, the battery boasts a longer lifetime and is a safer alternative to common lithium-ion batteries.

Energy companies E.ON and Uniper teamed up with research teams from the Universities of Aston, Southampton and Sheffield to use the facility as a testing ground for energy storage potential.

The facility will be owned and operated by research teams from three Universities, which have banded together to form the Energy2050 initiative – one of the UK’s largest research institutes.

The project also has plans to expand its research and consider second-life EV battery solutions to extend its energy storage capabilities (as below).

4) BMW’s second-life EV Energy Storage System, University of California-San Diego, US

Size: 108 kW/180Kw.

Provider: University of California-San Diego, in partnership with BMW Group who are providing used EV batteries.

Completion date: Ongoing.

The University of San Diego (UCSD) is San Diego Gas & Electric’s biggest demand-response customer, frequently pushing 6MW-10MW to the grid when called upon. To continue meeting this demand, UCSD is expanding its energy storage capabilities in a collaboration with German carmaker BMW to test the potential of electric vehicle batteries as second-life energy storage solutions.

EV batteries generally have a lifetime of eight to 10 years and can lose 20% of their charge capacity by the time they are no longer suitable for intended use. However, the batteries have the potential to hold enough charge to be used in smaller-scale storage projects. 

UCSD’s centre for energy research has introduced the energy storage system, based on old BMW EV batteries capable of 180kwh capacity. This project will be integrated with an on-site PV system, storing energy for demand response solutions and potential fast EV charging systems at the University.

This project aims to demonstrate the potential cost reduction of owning an electric vehicle through repurposing batteries for small scale storage solutions. The project is sponsored by BMW, which is providing used mini-E electric vehicle batteries for the storage site.

5) PowerStream’s Power Demonstration Project Microgrid in Ontario, Canada

Size: 18kW/30kWh.

Provider: PowerStream in association with storage solution specialists GE

Completion date: Ongoing

Community-owned energy company PowerStream has teamed up with energy storage specialist General Electric (GE) to implement a multipurpose energy generation and storage solution at PowerStream’s own headquarters in Ontario, Canada.

The Power Demonstration Project is a prototype ‘micro-grid’ system, comprising various demand-management, storage and generation sources across the site. The project aims to demonstrate how smaller scale power generation and storage projects are viable options for both commercial energy consumers and utility companies.

The proposed micro-grid will generate energy for the company through solar, wind and natural gas solutions and will be stored in an array of lead acid, lithium-ion and sodium nickel chloride batteries – representing 18kW/30kWh of total storage generation and capacity. This stored energy will then be used to power the headquarters and other on-site facilities including a solar carport.

As part of the project, GE is supplying its micro-grid control system which will automatically determine when it is most economical to draw power from the grid rather than consume, store or generate its own power.

GE has been responsible for many innovative energy storage solutions over the past couple of years and is set to be a big player in the industry, evolving from its already-dominant role in providing power generation equipment.

6) Alamitos Power Centre at Long Beach, California, US

Size: 100MW/400MWh.

Provider: AES Southland, as part of a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Southern California Edison.

Completion date: January 2021.

California’s shift towards a clean, unbreakable power grid was boosted earlier this year when US energy supplier Southern California Edison chose global power company the AES Corporation to provide 100MW of interconnected battery-based energy storage at the Alamitos Power Centre in Long Beach, California, which will serve the west Los Angeles area.

The ‘front-of-meter’ system, which will be able to consistently provide up to 100MW of power for a total of four hours, replaces a gas-fired power plant with 18,000 lithium-ion battery modules, each about the same size as the batteries that power the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle.

Early in the morning, the energy storage system will be ready to supply enough energy to balance out an expected peak in Los Angeles’ energy use, having spent the night storing cheap power – most of which will have been generated by wind turbines. When the city then sees its customary afternoon peak in energy use, the system will be able to supply electricity stored from cheap solar power.

What makes this project relatively unique is the ability to use the lithium-ion technology for such a long duration. Most grid-scale lithium-ion energy storage systems deployed so far have only been able to provide power for two hours or less, but this system can provide power for up to four hours due to its size – the developers claim this is the world’s largest electrochemical battery.

California’s Public Utilities Commission has set a target for utility companies to build their capacity to store energy; to use more renewable energy and to help cut the State’s emissions 80% by 2050.

7) Bosch’s Braderup ES Facility Flow Battery

Size: 2.3MW/3MWh.

Provider: Bosch Electronics.

Completion date: July 2014.

Bosch has designed this innovative hybrid battery solution in the north German municipality of Braderup to store electricity generated from community wind farms.

The project was devised as a flexible power management solution to store energy from six Braderup-Tinningstedt GmbH & Co. KG turbines in the event of a power grid overload.

The Braderup hybrid battery system comprises three separate storage units – two separate lithium-ion batteries (generating a combined 2MWh) and a 1MWh redox flow battery. The battery control unit distributes the power generated by the turbines to the most suitable battery type for storage.

The batteries can store energy over both short and long-term and can feed power back to the grid when needed. The solution can store enough power to cover the electricity needs of 40 single-family homes for a week. At the time of the project’s introduction in 2014, this was one of Europe’s biggest and most pioneering grid-scale lithium-ion battery systems.

8) Advancion 4 energy storage system at AES Kilroot Power Station, Northern Ireland

Size: 10MW/5MWh.

Provider: AES UK & Ireland.

Completion date: July 2014.

Earlier this year, energy distributor AES UK & Ireland announced the completion of its Kilroot power station project. Despite being a coal and oil power station, the site boasts what is reported to be the UK’s largest battery energy storage array.

Located in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland, the power station’s array is made up of more than 53,000 batteries arranged in 136 separate nodes. The Advancion 4 energy storage solution is a battery-based alternative to peaking power plants that provides a dependable, smart and cost-competitive means to support a reliable, low carbon electricity system for the Northern Ireland economy.

New York Stock Exchange-listed AES already owns and operates the world’s largest advanced energy storage fleet, with 384MW in operation, construction, or late stage development globally.

This array is the first step for Kilroot’s on-site energy storage ambitions. A further 100MW energy storage array is planned to be installed next to Kilroot Power Station, which will be among the largest energy storage solutions in the world. The Advancion 4 installation is expected to provide £8.5m in system savings a year and save the equivalent of 123,000tCO2e.

9) Collaborative energy storage project at Kaua’i Island, Hawaii

Size: 13MW/52MWh.

Provider: Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, as part of a 20-year power purchase agreement with SolarCity.

Completion date: End of 2016.

SolarCity is partnering with the Hawaii-based Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (KUIC) in a 20-year power purchase agreement to generate 50% of the island’s energy by 2023.

The project aims to couple the islands solar panels with a large-scale battery storage solution to allow excess energy generated to be stored and used during the night, ensuring energy from solar farms is constantly available for use. This will allow greater grid stabilization when unpredictable renewable energy sources are added.

SolarCity is generating the power from a 13MW solar array and storing it in a 52MWh storage system that consists of 520 Tesla Powerpacks. The lithium-ion battery system will feed up to 13MW into the grid during the evening peak, enabling KIUC to lower the amount of power it needs to generate from fossil fuels.

The project will be developed on 50 acres of land owned by Grove Farm Co, near KIUC’s Kapaia power station. The Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, Hawaii’s only member-owned electric utility, is pioneering this project as part of its significant progress towards its goal of generating 50% of Kauai’s power by 2023.

Additionally, the storage project has been sanctioned as part of Hawaii’s target of meeting a 100% renewable energy mandate by 2045.

10) SEPTA’s Energy Optimization Project in Philadelphia, US

Size: 1.8MW/1000kWh batteries and 70 kW/3.45 kWh (useable), 4.6 kWh (absolute) capacitors.

Provider: SEPTA.

Completion date: August 2014.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) has partnered with Philadelphia-based smart-grid firm Viridity energy for this innovative energy storage project.

The unique energy storage solution will capture and store energy generated from braking trains to then reuse to accelerate other trains on the line.

This regenerative energy process utilises a 1.8MW lithium-ion battery produced by Staff batteries, Maxwell technology ultracapacitors (70KW) and a power controller produced by ABB Envitech.

The battery stores braking energy and discharges the energy back to the third rail to power trains leaving stations. Whilst powering the acceleration of SEPTA trains, the system is also used to participate in a local demand response initiative.

Through this partnership, SEPTA will also participate in the demand response and frequency regulation market programme to create a more cost and energy efficient transit system. The project received a $900,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority (PEDA).

Think we’ve missed an even bigger and better energy storage project? Email us at [email protected] with your ideas.

Luke Nicholls & Alex Baldwin

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