GE and US utility join to install world’s first gas and battery storage system


The world’s largest gas and battery hybrid grid storage system will be installed by the end of the year, utility Southern California Edison announced in mid-October.

SCE said the 10MW lithium-ion battery system, from General Electric spin-off firm Current, will merge with an existing but upgraded GE LM6000 gas turbine.

“Operating the batteries and turbines together will allow the turbine to remain in standby mode without using fuel and enable immediate response to changing energy dispatch needs,” said Paul Griffo, an SCE official.

“By eliminating the need to constantly run the turbines at minimum loads to maintain spinning reserve, the two projects will save fuel and reduce maintenance costs.”

The installation is in response to the Aliso Canyon incident. This happened in October last year when a gas leak was discovered by Southern California Gas Company inside the underground storage facility in the Santa Susana Mountains near Porter Ranch in Los Angeles. This was the second-largest gas storage facility of its kind in the US.

The leak was not declared under control until February 2016, by which time the California Public Utilities Commission estimated 97,100 tonnes of methane had been released into the atmosphere.

The storage facility was shut down by the end of March, and the well remains sealed.

In June, the California Public Utilities Commission ordered SCE to undertake an “expedited procurement” of large-scale, grid-connected energy storage to cope with expected outages with the loss of power reserves following the closure of Aliso Canyon.

“It is the sort of innovation that we need to modernize the grid,” said Griffo. “Particularly given our increased reliance on renewable resources that have intermittent operation, energy storage integrated with peaker operations is going to be critical to reliably managing the grid at a cost that’s affordable to customers.”

SCE is planning similar gas turbine upgrades and a similar battery storage project elsewhere.

GE’s power services and Current businesses developed the hybrid through a partnership with Wellhead Power Solutions.

Eric Gebhardt, chief platforms and operations officer for Current, said the project was brought to fruition in a very short time frame. “Now we can bring this same technology to other GE gas turbine customers around the world,” he said.