The world’s largest battery could soon be storing solar energy deep in the heart of Texas oil country.
The 495-megawatt storage system would be built in tandem with a solar farm of the same size in Borden County, Texas. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas Inc., which operates most of the state’s grid, posted the details in a chart that shows the state’s battery storage will surge more than sixfold to 584 megawatts when the projects are completed in 2021.
Bigger batteries are being developed to help make the electricity produced through solar and wind power more efficient, even when the sun goes down and it gets less breezy. Recent battery-backed solar projects have, at most, 100 megawatts of panels and 30 megawatts of storage, said Yayoi Sekine, an analyst at BloombergNEF.
"This would be about five times that,” Sekine said in an interview.
The project underscores how Big Oil’s demand for power in the fossil fuel-rich Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico is, in a twist, boosting the case for renewable energy. Texas’s power grid operator has stressed the need for more electricity resources in the region to power oil and gas drilling operations.
IP Juno, a unit of San Francisco-based Intersect Power LLC, outlined plans to build a 400-megawatt solar facility by the second quarter of 2021 in Borden County, according to an application concerning its state property taxes. Intersect Power didn’t return calls and emails for comment.
Borden County, with a population of less than 700, is located within the oil-rich Permian Basin, is about 70 miles (110 kilometers) south of Lubbock.
Vistra Energy Corp. just completed what’s now the largest battery storage facility in Texas with a 10-megawatt system connected to a solar farm. It’s also planning a project at the Moss Landing power plant in California, which will store 300 megawatts for as long as four hours when completed next year.