230MW BESS comes online at Bureau of Land Management site in California


A 230MW battery energy storage system (BESS) from NextEra Energy Resources, part of a large solar-plus-storage project, has come online in California.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which manages the land on which the 94-acre project is located in Riverside County, announced the start of commercial operations on the Desert Sunlight Battery Energy Storage System yesterday (16 August).

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The 230MW BESS project adjoins the existing Desert Sunlight Solar Farm and will store renewable energy generated by the Farm and shift it to peak demand hours.

In a document approving the project in November last year, BLM said the project developer was Sunlight Storage, LLC, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, which appears to have been very quiet on the project.

An SEC filing from the Fortune 500 company, referring to the project as the Sunlight Storage Facility, said it is a 230MW/920MWh system. A four-hour duration is a requirement for projects in California to provide energy to utilities through Resource Adequacy, the framework by which grid operator CAISO ensures supply can meet demand, and the main revenue stream for BESS projects.

The project’s commissioning is good news for the state after something of a slowdown in BESS deployments in the lead-up to the peak summer season, when the heightened risk of wildfires can also threaten grid reliability and increase the chance of outages.

As of the end of July, CAISO had 3,334MW of grid-scale BESS in commercial operation according to its official data (which can be changed retrospectively if a unit’s commercial operation date is announced significantly after the fact).

It is not clear if these figures include the Desert Sunlight BESS, which it might do if it is announcing its commercial operation late, for example. Assuming not, this brings the BESS count in California to nearly 3,600MW. If Ameresco’s 537.5MW/2,150MWh projects for utility SCE had not been delayed, as reported by Energy-Storage.news, the figure may have been over 4,000MW by now, the grid operator’s stated aim.

The BLM is the US government body responsible for administering federal lands, a key figure in approving projects located within its portfolio. Recent significant solar-plus-storage projects it has waived through include a 250MW project by Revolve Renewable Power and a 500MW project by Oberon Solar, both covered by our sister site PV Tech.

The agency is also encouraging projects to be built on its land, most recently issuing a solicitation for utility-scale solar projects on 90,000 acres of public land across Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico.

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