World’s biggest solar+battery project approved


Los Angeles’ Department of Water & Power has unanimously approved a Power Purchase Agreement which cements the construction of what many consider to be the largest solar and battery energy system in the US and the world.

The Eland Solar and Storage Center, a 400 MW/1.2 GWh project being developed by 8minute Solar Energy failed to gain approval in August, but following two weeks of work to ensure that the project will be constructed with unionised labour, the LA Department of Water and Power’s (LADWP) Board of Commissioners have voted to go ahead.

 “The climate crisis has never been direr, but the solutions have never been clearer or cheaper — and Los Angeles is investing in renewable energy and cleaning our air as part of my DWP reform agenda,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti.

“The Eland Solar and Storage Center will help us keep the lights on without the help of dirty fossil fuels — even when the sun isn’t shining — and power our progress toward a low-carbon, green-energy future.”

“Eland Solar and Storage Center will offer reliable, cost-competitive energy as we expand solar and other renewable resources to meet our aggressive climate change goals,” added LADWP Interim General Manager Martin L. Adams. “Among other benefits, the project will bridge the gap between day and night, dramatically increasing the operational value of the project.”

The project is set for construction on 1,000 hectares of land in California’s Kern County and will consist of two large-scale solar facilities with a cumulative capacity of 400MW, accompanied by a 1,200MWh battery energy storage system. Combined, the facility has sufficient capacity to power the equivalent of 283,330 LA homes.

“Today was a big win for the city of Los Angeles, the people of California and the renewable energy industry as well,” said Jeff McKay, VP of marketing for 8minute.

“The project offers a glimpse of the future, with zero-carbon sources providing energy cheaper than fossil fuels to households throughout Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley — at the lowest combined solar and storage prices on record.

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While further final regulatory approval is still needed, today was a big step in ensuring this project becomes a reality, and we feel very strongly that this project is a win-win for everyone involved.”

The timing of the announcement also serves to hint at a way forward for the State of California which is looking at a potential grid reliability shortfall in its southern boundaries.

California has been undergoing a myriad of changes, with nuclear plant closures, constraints on natural gas, and the pending closure of further plants along the state’s coast leading to state grid operator CAISO and utility Southern California Edison to project gigawatts’ worth of reliability shortfalls by as soon as 2021.