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Kansas’ biggest battery storage project awarded to FlexGen by community energy group

A FlexGen 10MW battery storage project near Houston, Texas. Image: FlexGen.

While it might be more than 200 times smaller than the world’s biggest battery energy storage system so far, a 1MW / 5.1MWh project awarded to technology provider FlexGen is expected to be the biggest of its kind in the US state of Kansas.

The 300MW / 1,200MWh Moss Landing Energy Storage Facility in California went into operation just before the end of last year and was officially announced as up and running at the beginning of this one. Moss Landing’s output serves California investor-owned utility (IOU) Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) through long term contracts.

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Meanwhile, the Solomon Energy Storage Center which FlexGen has just announced will also have four hours’ duration of energy storage and is being commissioned for Kansas Power Pool, a municipal energy agency which serves 24 member cities in the state as a not-for-profit public power energy procurement and transmission organisation.

FlexGen said that it will be the biggest battery storage system in Kansas, according to data gathered by analysis firm BloombergNEF. It is certainly far from FlexGen's largest project too – the company said at the beginning of this month that it is working with battery supplier CATL on two large-scale battery projects in Texas totalling 220MWh and signed a deal late last year with an Indiana rural utility cooperative, to deploy 108MWh over five years. Independent management company Kelson Energy is acting as developer for the project and supplying market analytics and implementation support to Kansas Power Pool.

Kansas Power Pool owns a 62MW share of a combined cycled gas turbine power plant and also buys power from a mix of fossil fuel (including coal and gas) and renewable (hydroelectric and wind turbine) resources. The group meets about 20% of its peak load from renewable energy according to its website.

FlexGen has been contracted to design, build and operate Solomon Energy Storage Center which will help to lower the overall cost of electricity by charging during cheaper off-peak times and discharging energy for use at more expensive peak times. Running on FlexGen’s own proprietary energy management software platform, called Hybrid OS, it will also provide backup power in the case of outages which could be caused by weather events or other factors. The system will also be equipped with a ‘black start’ function capability – allowing generators to come online very quickly when the grid fails.

FlexGen demonstrated this latter capability with a recently completed project for a utility company in Indiana in a project completed last year that can be used to 'jump start' 77MW of diesel engines. FlexGen’s chief operating officer Alan Grosse told that one trend that industry-watchers should look out for in 2021 is that US states such as Indiana and others that have traditionally been dependent on coal will be seeking to deploy a lot more energy storage as they pursue their energy transition away from the polluting – and increasingly uneconomic – fuel source. Grosse was interviewed for a feature article 'US energy storage in 2021: Notes from a maturing industry' for our quarterly journal PV Tech Power, which you can read an extract of here

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