The Global Race To Build The World’s Largest Battery

Large-scale energy storage system. Image: Petrmalinak Shutterstock

Every month a new “bigger battery” is announced. What is really the greatest? Elon Musk sparked ever-increasing competition to build the world’s largest battery.

Ever since Tesla completed its 129 megawatt-hour storage plant at Hornsdale Power Reserve, following Elon Musk’s bet on Twitter, others have been looking to beat it.

This summer, for example, two advertisements for the “world’s largest battery” ran within days of each other. Given the different launch dates, you could both claim the prize for a while. But we all wonder, which country will end up having the largest battery?

Here is a summary of the main competitors, based on announcements made to date.

Australia.

Australia appears willing to stay at the forefront of large and small scale battery development and mass installation.

British businessman Sanjeev Gupta plans to build a 120-megawatt, 140-megawatt-hour battery complex in the same region where Tesla completed its Hornsdale plant late last year.

Reuters reported that an international consortium plans to develop a 400 megawatt-hour storage system in South Australia. Construction could begin “in a matter of months.”

South Korea.

LS Industrial Systems (LSIS) and Macquarie Capital Korea have won the contract to build and operate a 175 megawatt-hour battery storage system owned by SeAH, a steel conglomerate, LSIS announced.

They have not given a date for its commissioning, but reported that it would be used to store cheap electricity at night for use during the day, creating a savings of around $116 million over 15 years.

Germany.

German engineers are working on an urban-scale energy storage system that could have a capacity of up to 120 megawatts and 700 megawatt-hours, supposedly enough to power Berlin for an hour.

It could be ready in 2023, when it is expected to “change the storage market” with its simple, cheap and clean mechanism: this flow battery only needs recyclable plastic polymers and salt water to function.

UK.

The UK broke a new national record with the commissioning of Stocking Pelham, a 50 megawatt-hour facility containing 150,000 lithium-ion cells.

However, the SMA Sunbelt Energy facility could be overshadowed if plans for a 350 megawatt-hour battery system advance in Graveney, near Kent, in south-eastern England.

The battery will work for a 300 megawatt solar plant proposed by Hive Energy and Wirsol Energy. But both projects face opposition from environmental groups for their heavy impact on nearby wetland ecosystems.

U.S.

The U.S. could pick up the title in 2020, when Vistra Energy brings a 300-megawatt, 4-hour runtime lithium-ion battery system into operation as part of Pacific Gas and Electric’s plans to replace gas plants. by large-scale energy storage.

Vistra is also working on a 42 megawatt-hour project in Texas, built by FlexGen, which should be operational by the end of the year.

The 1,200 megawatt-hour Vistra Moss Landing energy storage project is just one of four massive batteries that PG&E has commissioned at the South Bay’s Moss Landing.

Tesla plans to build a 730 megawatt-hour plant, Hummingbird Energy Storage plans to install 300 megawatt-hours, and Micronoc has a 40 megawatt-hour contract. All projects will use lithium-ion technology.

The Vistra and Tesla projects, the largest in the world to date, will be operational in 2021 and are expected to operate for 20 years.

Given the seen, it may not be long before something bigger overtakes them.

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