Vistra starts operations at 'world's biggest utility-scale BESS' in California

by Michael Green
Rows of BESS battery racks. Photo: Vistra
Texas-based power utility Vistra has confirmed start-up of what it said is the world’s largest utility-scale battery energy storage system to date – its 300 MW Moss Landing Energy Storage Facility in California.

Vistra said the 1,200 MWh lithium-ion BESS was connected to the grid and started operating on 11 December 2020 at the Moss Landing Power Plant in Monterey County.

Construction is already under way on the second phase of the project – which will see 100 MW/400 MWh added to the facility by August 2021, bringing its total capacity to 400 MW/1,600 MWh.

A development permit is already in place for a potential expansion up to 1,500 MW/6,000 MWh of storage capacity, should market and economic conditions support it.

'Fills reliability gap'

Vistra CEO Curt Morgan said: "This is a keystone project and it is important in so many ways – it revitalises an existing power plant site and utilises active transmission lines, enhances grid stability, fills the reliability gap created by intermittent renewables, provides emission-free electricity, supports California's sustainability goals and mandates, significantly benefits the local community, and ultimately provides affordable electricity to consumers.”

According to Vistra, the first phase of the BESS is housed in a refurbished, former turbine building and comprises more than 4,500 stacked battery racks or cabinets, each containing 22 individual battery modules. 

The system captures excess electricity from the grid, largely during high solar-output hours, and can release the power when energy demand is at its highest and solar electricity is declining, usually early morning and late afternoon.

The first phase can power around 225,000 homes during peak electricity pricing periods.

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