TVA, Alabama Power, Others Forge Ahead with Solar Battery Storage Projects

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As families and businesses nationwide continue to cope with the impact of COVID-19, Energy Fairness will continue to communicate about important energy issues. As we do so, we are grateful for the efforts of the men and women of the electric industry who are maintaining reliable power supplies during this difficult time.

Over the last year, we’ve written several pieces about the integral role energy storage will play as solar, wind, and other renewables continue to proliferate and play a more significant role in our overall energy mix. In January, we discussed how pumped hydro storage could be used to harness the potential of renewables. And, last year we reviewed the promise of legislation introduced by Senators Heinrich (D-NM) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) that would extend the investment tax credit currently available to residential solar systems to systems backed up with battery storage as well. While we were writing about the potential of battery and pumped storage, utilities across the country have acted to add solar backed by battery storage to their portfolios.

In February, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) announced that it would enter into a purchase power agreement with Origis Energy to acquire 200 Megawatts of new solar coupled with four hours of battery storage. The Golden Triangle region of Mississippi will host this new facility.

The TVA announcement came on the heels of the news emanating out of the South last September that Alabama Power would be adding 400 Megawatts of new solar paired with battery storage. The proposal was included as part of its Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) presented to the Alabama Public Service Commission. Given that there are currently 899 Megawatts of operating solar with battery backup in the U.S., the Alabama Power and TVA proposals, by themselves, would increase solar with battery backup by 66% once online.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that by 2023 there will be almost 2500 Megawatts of installed solar with battery storage online – a 150% increase compared with today’s capacity. 

Much of that increase will come from two new projects in Florida and Nevada. In Florida, Nextera Energy Resources Manatee Project will be four times larger than the world’s largest solar/battery plant once online in 2021. And, in Nevada, the Gemini Solar Project will add up to 380 Megawatts of new solar/battery capacity.  

Although it may not seem so right now, the future is bright. There is light at the end of the tunnel with the number of cases and deaths caused by the Coronavirus flattening out. And, again, enough can’t be said about the efforts of our first responders and those who help keep the lights on during these unprecedented times.

Though it might not be as quick as some like, we will return to normalcy. The economy will recover and, with it, the continued affordable and reliable proliferation of utility-scale solar with battery storage.