Florida Power & Light to Build World’s Largest Solar-Powered Battery System – The Wall Street Journal

An FPL worker repairs a power line in Puerto Rico damaged by Hurricane Maria. FPL said the battery would be able to provide 409 megawatts of electricity for two hours. Photo: Thais Llorca/EFE/Zuma Press

Florida Power & Light NEE -0.15% said it plans to build the world’s largest battery, which would collect electricity from solar panels during the day and discharge it as needed during periods of high power demand.

FPL, a utility that serves large portions of Florida and is a unit of NextEra Energy Inc. NEE -0.15% said it expects the battery—planned for a location in Manatee County on the state’s Gulf Coast—to be operational by 2021.

The company said the battery, when fully charged, would be able to provide 409 megawatts of electricity for two hours, enough by FPL’s estimates to power about 329,000 average Florida homes.

FPL operates a 74.5-megawatt solar farm in Manatee and earlier this month announced plans to open a second 74.5-megawatt farm. Both will feed power into the proposed battery.

The battery would be larger than the battery array being developed by Fluence Energy LLC, a joint venture of AES Corp. and Siemens AG , in Long Beach, Calif., which would be able to deliver 100 megawatts of electricity for four hours. It would also be four times larger than the battery Tesla built in South Australia in 2017.

FPL didn’t disclose the cost of the battery project. The development is part of a larger trend of battery arrays replacing so-called peaker plants fueled by natural gas that operate for short periods during peak demand. The falling cost of lithium-ion batteries has made these projects increasingly competitive.

Ravi Manghani, director of energy storage research at Wood Mackenzie, said the growing number of solar-plus-storage projects is a result of their improving economics versus older, less efficient gas plants. He said developers are hoping to start work on projects by the end of the year to meet federal subsidies that will expire soon. “Needless to say, this won’t be the last major solar-plus-storage project announced this year,” he said.

FPL said the Manatee County battery project would accelerate the retirement of two existing fossil-fuel plants.

Write to Russell Gold at russell.gold@wsj.com

Source: https://www.wsj.com/articles/florida-power-light-to-build-worlds-largest-solar-powered-battery-system-11553783071

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