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Key Capture Energy’s 40MWh New York BESS will provide ‘insights and learnings’ for much bigger projects

KCE NY 6 site near Buffalo, New York. The site is being cleared of old construction debris so that work on the energy storage facility can begin. Image: Key Capture Energy.

The CEO of Key Capture Energy has said the company will immediately be able to apply lessons learned from a 20MW battery project in New York to its pipeline of much bigger projects in the state to come. 

Key Capture Energy, an independent power producer (IPP) and developer of grid-scale battery storage has just begun construction of KCE NY 6, a 20MW / 40MWh battery energy storage system (BESS) project just outside Buffalo, Upstate New York. 

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The company completed the northeastern US state’s first grid-scale BESS project in 2019. That project, KCE NY 6 and two other Key Capture Energy (KCE) projects are receiving incentives from the Bulk Energy Storage Market Bridge Program, run by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). 

CEO Jeff Bishop had previously said that KCE’s development strategy is to enter a new market with strong drivers for energy storage deployment and emerging market structures and build smaller (5MW to 20MW) projects, before building much larger ones. 

The company has done this in Texas successfully, and in an interview earlier this year Bishop pointed out that KCE is developing some projects in New York of 100MW or more output each. 

“In New York, Key Capture Energy has a development portfolio of around 1,000MW of battery storage projects,” Bishop told yesterday.

“We immediately are able to take the insights and learnings from a project like this as we look to very soon start construction on other larger projects, like the 200MW KCE NY 2, just north of New York City.”

KCE NY 6 is expected to be online in summer 2022, with construction set to take a pause during Buffalo’s brutal winter. KCE has selected Black & McDonald as its engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) and balance of plant (BOP) contractor, the second project in the state the two companies have worked together on. 

In October, reported that Key Capture Energy placed an order for 390MW of BESS equipment from Sungrow. The deal covers 2752kWh liquid cooled lithium iron phosphate (LFP) BESS units and accompanying power conversion systems (PCS) from the energy storage division of the China-headquartered solar PV inverter company.

KCE said that Sungrow Americas will supply the full BESS solution for KCE NY 6 as well as maintenance servicing. 

KCE NY 1, New York’s first grid-scale battery project. Image: Key Capture Energy.

‘New York is doing it all’

KCE CEO Jeff Bishop explained why the project is a two-hour duration BESS, while KCE NY 1 had been one-hour. Bishop also said that there will be much longer-duration large-scale battery systems to come in New York, as appropriate to each project. One proposed project would pair 150MW / 600MWh of battery with a new long-distance transmission line.

“KCE NY 6 is just south of Buffalo, NY. With the baseload clean energy from hydro power at Niagara Falls, combined with increasing amounts of wind and solar energy in western New York, KCE NY 6 helps to balance New York’s electric grid as the state moves to 100% clean energy by 2040,” Bishop said.

“Across New York, Key Capture Energy has constructed (or is constructing) projects with one to six hours in duration; each project is initially sized to be the duration that is able to drive the most revenues and provide the greatest grid benefit.”

Bishop’s colleague Taylor Quarles, who heads up KCE’s New York development activities, told back in August that Long Island is the area of New York he is most excited about

Long Island is currently host to several gigawatts of fossil fuel peaker plants, which are coming to their conclusion during this decade, Quarles said. Thanks to this and the coming of offshore wind to North America, KCE is seeking to swoop on the opportunity, Bishop told yesterday.

“The Long Island projects we have in development are likely to be closer to eight hours in duration – as that is what is most needed in Long Island to balance the increasing amounts of offshore wind that are about to start entering the electric grid.”

Key Capture Energy uses its proprietary algorithms to optimise the market interaction of its battery projects, Bishop said. This means bidding projects into wholesale markets and adjusting bids on a regular basis. For example in Texas’ ERCOT market bids are adjusted as frequently as every five minutes. 

This adjustment is done based on what the grid needs at any given time. Systems can be bid into markets could include day ahead and real-time (“both charging and discharging,” Bishop said), reserve energy and frequency regulation. 

“We forecast the macro supply and demand on the grid subject to power flow constraints on a rolling basis and optimise our projects accordingly, responding to price signals that tell us what the grid needs most,” Bishop said.

“For instance, there are times when we know there will be overlapping fossil fuel outages on top of a high demand period and that the grid will need stored energy discharged – and so we adjust our bidding to make sure that we have a fully charged system during that time.”

New York State is targeting the installation of 1,500MW of energy storage by 2025 and 3,000MW of energy storage by 2030 as it closes in on its 100% clean energy policy goal.

KCE CEO Jeff Bishop pointed out that in western New York alone, KCE — itself headquartered in Albany, New York — is building large energy storage projects while a huge new hydrogen and fuel cell “gigafacility” is under construction through Plug Power. 

With NYSERDA’s support on behalf of the state “allowing for significant amounts of new wind and solar projects,” the state is making huge progress, the CEO said. 

“New York is doing it all when it comes to the energy transition.” 

In September, a deal was agreed for South Korean energy company SK E&S to acquire Key Capture Energy.

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