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Enel brings 555MWh of BESS online in ERCOT

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Enel North America has brought five battery energy storage system (BESS) projects online in ERCOT, Texas, totalling 369MW/555MWh of energy storage.

The company, part of Enel, the large Italy-headquartered utility and independent power producer (IPP), brought the projects online over the course of summer. This brings Enel North America’s operational utility scale BESS capacity to 520MW/780MWh and the company expects to bring another 823MW/1,234MWh online over the next year.

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Two are 59MW/89MWh in size, another two are 57MW/86MWh and the fifth is a 137MW/206MWh system. All are co-located with parts of Enel’s existing renewable energy portfolio in the state and have a discharge duration of 1.5 hours, notably lower than the two-hour standard seen in most projects in Texas today.

The company already has 3.3GW of solar and wind capacity operational in the Lone Star State and recently launched a retail energy business there. Enel said the utility-scale BESS projects participate in Texas’ ancillary services, run by grid operator ERCOT.

The main ancillary services ERCOT runs are Reg-Up and Reg-Down, Responsive Reserve Service (RRS or spinning reserve) and non-spinning reserve. Reg-Up and Reg-Down are frequency regulation services of which help keep the grid at 60hz by balancing fluctuations within the energy market’s five-minute intervals, while RRS is the provision of capacity used in case a generating unit trips offline.

ERCOT declared an Energy Emergency Level 2 alert on Wednesday last week (6 September) when reserves were running low. In response, Enel delivered 524MWh of energy from its seven BESS units in the state while its renewable portfolio in the state generated 19.9GWh of energy through the day. It also utilised 145MW of its 200MW demand response portfolio to help the operator balance the grid.

“With extreme heat propelling Texas’ energy demand to record-breaking levels, the addition of these five new battery storage systems couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Paolo Romanacci, head of Enel North America’s renewable energy business, Enel Green Power North America.

The state looks set to reach 9.5GW of grid-scale BESS online by October next year as developers and IPPs capitalise on ancillary service and energy trading opportunities, with the ERCOT electricity market having amongst the highest market spreads in the world. Around 3.3GW was online as of June this year according to ERCOT’s figures.

In Italy, its home market, Enel is also one of the most active in deploying projects in the country’s burgeoning grid-scale energy storage market, with the largest portfolio of under-construction units in the country launched earlier this year.

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