General Electric and Southern California Edison announced that they have retrofitted a natural gas peaker plant with a 10-MW, 4.3-MWh battery installation, creating the world’s first hybrid electric gas turbine. Peaker plants typically only run when there is a high demand for electricity, accounting for the difference between baseload energy and intermittent renewables.
Peaker plants waste fuel while they’re standing by, but the battery solution presented by GE and SCE eliminates fuel use during downtime. In a press release, GE wrote, “The energy storage capacity of the battery has been specifically designed to provide enough time coverage to allow the gas turbine to start and reach its designated power output.”
The plant was also equipped with new emissions controls that reduce emissions and pollution by 60%. The amount of water required to operate the plant has also been reduced by 45%, amounting to 2 million gallons of water over the course of the year.
“We worked with SCE to address a very specific need, but this solution has applications that go far beyond,” said Paul McElhinney, President & CEO for GE Power Services. “We look forward to working with customers to develop tailor-made solutions that will allow them greater flexibility when incorporating renewable energy and other quick power needs.”
Initially, SCE was ordered by the state of California to invest in utility-scale solutions to avoid a natural gas shortage following the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility leak, Ars Technica reports. The leak is one of the largest in U.S. history, and while the shortage didn’t impact California like some thought that it might, utilities companies contracted with Tesla, AES Energy Storage, and GE to build battery installations.
Tesla and AES dispatch energy as the California Independent System Operator sells it, while the GE peaker plant produces energy by burning natural gas, using a battery system that GE says seamlessly blends output between battery and gas turbine.
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