Key Capture Energy’s two-hour New York grid-scale battery project progresses with unionised labour

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Key Capture Energy is in the construction phase of a battery storage system in New York that will inform how the developer approaches much bigger projects in the state.

Key Capture Energy’s KCE NY 6 is a 20MW/40MWh (two-hour duration) lithium-ion battery energy storage system (BESS) just south of Buffalo, in Upstate New York.

The project is being built with unionised labour through local branches of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), United Steelworkers and Communications Workers of America. Key Capture Energy said yesterday that this was made possible by its construction contractor, Black & McDonald.

Key Capture Energy is headquartered in Albany in the Upstate region. The developer delivered New York State’s first-ever grid-scale battery storage system, KCE NY 1, which was commissioned in 2019. That 20MW system was also the first project to benefit from state-level incentives through a programme from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

KCE NY 6 and two other Key Capture Energy projects (KCE NY 2 and KCE NY 11, both also 20MW) will also be receiving money from the NYSERDA programme, called the Bulk Energy Storage Incentive Program. At the time the award to KCE NY 1 was announced, the company said the incentives were the path to “monetising millions” of dollars from the New York projects.

Energy-Storage.news reported in November 2021 as construction of KCE NY 6 began that according to Key Capture CEO Jeff Bishop, the developer had a development portfolio of 1,000MW in New York State at the time. New York has a statewide policy target to deploy 6,000MW of energy storage on its grid by 2030, helping to leverage renewable energy generation from less population dense Upstate and rural areas as well as from offshore wind to be built in the coming years, as it targets a zero emissions electricity sector by 2040.

With the company typically going into a new US transmission operator service area or state market and building smaller projects before scaling up to larger ones, lessons learned from KCE NY 6’s development, construction and commissioning phases would be applied “immediately” to other projects in the portfolio, Bishop said.

Sungrow Americas was announced as the BESS supplier to the project, with the regional energy storage division of Chinese PV inverter manufacturer Sungrow having worked with Key Capture Energy (KCE) on projects in other US regions, including Texas.

In October 2021, KCE placed a 390MW BESS order with Sungrow for projects to be construction towards the end of that year and into this one, as Energy-Storage.news reported. The order was for Sungrow liquid-cooled lithium iron phosphate (LFP) BESS units ranging from one hour to two hours duration.

In December last year, KCE was bought by South Korean energy company SK E&S. SK E&S, an affiliate of major Korean conglomerate SK Group, said that it intended to invest at least a billion dollars into the developer.

This article and headline have been amended from their original form to reflect that the project is in its construction phase currently and not yet nearing completion.

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