Some of the new solar projects in Mississippi are utilizing battery storage technology to help them power the grid even when the sun isn’t shining.
According to the University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems, there is about 790 megawatts nationwide of battery storage capacity.
These battery storage facilities usually feature lithium-ion batteries and store electricity generated by the solar panels via a chemical reaction. This allows some of the electricity generated while the sun was shining to be used at night.
Other methods of energy storage include pumped hydroelectric storage (like the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Racoon Mountain facility near Chattanooga, Tennessee) and compressed air storage in an underground cavern.
An example of the capacity of one of these battery systems is MS Solar 6, a solar facility owned by Miami-Florida-based Origis Energy and located in Lowndes County. The facility has a capacity of 150 megawatts and its batteries have a capacity of 50 megawatts. The power from this facility will be delivered to the Tennessee Valley Authority, which will have Facebook as its primary off-take customer.
Johan Vanhee is the chief commercial and procurement officer at Origis Energy, which has five solar projects in active service, under construction or approved by the Mississippi Public Service Commission.
He told the Northside Sun that the company starts out automatically with the assumption that it will pair a field of solar panels with a battery storage unit.
He also said it’s easier for Origis to remove a storage component from a project rather than adding one after construction and testing are complete.
“For every new greenfield development project, Origis Energy starts from the assumption it will be a solar plus storage project,” Vanhee said. “We divert from that initial assumption only if our targeted customers are not interested in the storage component for online capacity in the 2023 to 2028 time frame.”
Vanhee also said that the assumed life for the batteries is generally 20 years but is dependent on the number of cycles the battery would require.
“We don’t replace batteries before the 20-year time frame,” Vanhee said. “Within that 20-year timeframe, the batteries are ‘augmented’ with additional cells to keep the battery at its minimum nameplate capacity.”
Not every solar facility in Mississippi will incorporate a battery storage facility. Some of those notable projects, such Wildflower Solar (100 megawatt facility in DeSoto County) or the Pearl River Solar Park (175 megawatts in Scott County) or Entergy’s new facility (100 megawatts capacity in Sunflower County), are eschewing batteries.