Major energy storage project proposed near Lebec along the California aqueduct | New
California’s energy future continues to point to Kern.
The latest 10-figure energy storage proposal in the county is a dam-shaped “pumped hydro” project connected to the California aqueduct that would store and release 3,500 gigawatt hours of electricity per year on or near it. from the Tejon ranch.
There is no money yet for this or a similar proposal that the same Los Angeles County engineering and development group revealed in December that would be located next to Isabella Lake. But the latter has sparked the interest of one of the world’s largest oil producers, the developer’s chief executive said.
“The market is very active right now,” said Victor Rojas of Premium Energy Holdings LLC, based in Walnut. “There is a lot of investment in the storage business and the oil companies are very active too, and they are grabbing now, getting into this power transmission business.” He declined to identify the oil company his company is talking to, but noted that the US Department of Energy was also interested.
Both Premium’s pumped storage proposals are in a federal application process that will only be successful if they can secure large investments – likely a mix of public and private money repaid on time by taxpayers – for the type of infrastructure. critical to California’s aggressive transition. renewable energies.
The Tehachapi pumped storage project released on Tuesday surprised Tejon Ranch Co., whose land is proposed for two of three alternatives being considered 6 miles east of Lebec by Premium and its design arm, Power Tech Engineers Inc. The third alternative is to build it in Gorman.
“Interesting,” said an email from Barry Zoeller, vice president and spokesperson for agribusiness and publicly traded real estate developer based in Lebec, on Friday. He noted that the request to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would only allow Premium Energy to study the feasibility of the project.
Tejon Ranch “would definitely support a feasibility study to see if the project would work,” he wrote.
If the results give hope, and if they manage to attract the $ 2 billion to $ 3 billion apiece, they will help California better balance its solar and wind power generation with its continued need for gas-fired electricity. natural.
Much of California’s renewable energy infrastructure cannot generate electricity all the time, as petroleum-fired power plants can. The government is keen to invest more in energy storage not limited to batteries, which, like the hydropump, have their own advantages and disadvantages in terms of responsiveness, duration, longevity and environmental impacts. California policymakers have expressed a preference for a diverse mix of energy storage facilities.
Premium Energy’s project along the Grapevine is the fourth proposal made public for the construction of large facilities in Kern County to store energy for use when needed. One of them is Los Angeles-based 8minute Solar Energy’s more than $ 1 billion PV and battery project to be built in the Cantil area of east Kern.
The other, besides the two from Premium, is the proposed $ 1.5 billion international partnership for a compressed air energy storage project near Rosamond.
Pumped hydroelectricity works because of gravity. Electricity generated when the sun shines on solar panels is routed to pumps that transport water from a lower tank to an upper tank. Whenever the state’s power grid needs this energy, water is released and its kinetic energy spins hydroelectric turbines that power the state’s power grid.
Premium’s design requires a closed loop that would minimize water loss with a membrane underneath and solar panels above a tunnel connecting the two reservoirs. Evaporation could not be completely removed, and the lake water would therefore replenish the proposed facility in the southern Sierra Nevada. The aqueduct would periodically fill the project near Lebec.
Besides access to water, the biggest differences between the two proposals are their maximum output and the length of time they would produce energy – and, in a more fundamental sense, their goals.
Rojas, a former engineer with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Electricity, said plans could change, but the project near Lebec would likely store enough water to power five turbine generators producing a total of 1,000 megawatts for 24 hours.
The one next to Lake Isabella would only store enough water to run for 12 hours, so it collects potential energy half the day and emits kinetic energy the other half. This project would also have a greater difference in elevation between the upper and lower reservoirs, and the harder “hitting” water means it would produce twice as many megawatts in any given hour.
Rojas said no final decision has been made on whether the project near Lebec will operate for 12 or 24 hours, but if it has enough capacity for a full day, it will serve as a power system for relief rather than a means of balancing. daily renewable energy delivery.
Which would ultimately be built, he said, “depends on the economy.”
Each of the three Premium alternatives outlined in a FERC advisory released on Tuesday would come with a new powerhouse located next to a lower reservoir. The project would have a switching station with a transmission line connected to the Rosamond switching station of LA DWP or the Bailey substation of Southern California Edison Co.