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New Jersey’s last coal power plant implodes to make way for energy storage

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The last remaining coal-fired power station in the US state of New Jersey has been demolished, with the facility’s owner committing to deploying large-scale energy storage at the site.

On 2 December, a crowd including climate and clean energy advocates gathered to watch the controlled implosion of Logan Generating Station in Swedesboro, in New Jersey’s south.

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The 242MW power plant was brought down with the push of a ceremonial button by Joseph Fiordaliso, board president of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU), bringing to an end a service lifetime that began in 1994.

Logan Generating Station is owned by energy and infrastructure investment group Starwood Energy. Starwood has been selling power from the plant, along with the output of another coal power plant, Chambers Cogeneration Plant, to New Jersey utility Atlantic City Energy under long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs).

However, after deciding to shutter the state’s final two coal power plants, Starwood had requested approval to end the PPAs early from the regulatory BPU. That permission was granted in March this year. Starwood agreed to use the sites to host clean energy projects, and Atlantic City Electric customers will be refunded the PPA costs.

Atlantic City Energy said that ending the agreements early would save the utility US$30 million, while according to Starwood’s CEO Himanshu Saxena the “early and permanent retirement” of the Logan plant has been one of New Jersey’s single largest measures to reduce CO2 emissions so far. Chambers has already closed but is yet to be demolished.

BPU president Fiordaliso said the Logan plant’s demolition marked a “historic milestone” for the state and “a massive step in the right direction that will pave the way for New Jersey’s clean energy future”.  

Starwood Energy has said that in addition to building large-scale battery storage systems at the Logan and Chambers sites, the company intends to use the power plants’ existing rights of interconnection to allow new offshore wind energy projects to connect to the power grid.

Further details of projects have not been disclosed, but the siting of large-scale battery storage systems at legacy power plants is a growing phenomenon around the world. Former or existing power plant sites offer valuable land and infrastructure, especially connection points to the grid, with projects in development or already built at such locations in California, New York and Australia as reported by this site.

For example, New York’s biggest thermal power plant, the 2,480MW Ravenswood Generating Station in Queens, is going to become a 27-acre renewable energy hub incorporating battery storage, while in June, Boston-headquartered equity investment group ArcLight said that legacy thermal power sites make “excellent potential locations” for battery storage as it plans makeovers at sites it owns in three US states.

“Working with numerous stakeholders, we developed a win-win plan that created an early and permanent retirement of the Logan plant and resulted in one of the State’s single largest CO2 reduction measures,” Starwood CEO Himanshu Saxena said.

“And now, in accordance with New Jersey’s Legislative Mandate to implement urgently needed energy storage for grid security and to accommodate and maximise the benefit of the huge influx of incoming renewable energy including from offshore wind, our company will work with Energy Management, Inc. to transform this site into one of the largest energy storage projects anywhere on the East coast.”

New Jersey actually has one of the most aggressive policy targets in place for energy storage, with state legislature calling for 2,000MW of deployments by 2030 as it targets a zero-emissions energy sector by 2050. However, as things stand, the installed base is currently at around just 500MW, and most of that represented by a single pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) plant.

As reported by Energy-Storage.news in October, the BPU has proposed a number of different policies that could accelerate deployment. Front-of-the-meter and behind-the-meter energy storage connected to distribution networks could be incentivised in a number of ways that are being considered.

Energy-Storage.news’ publisher Solar Media will host the 5th Energy Storage Summit USA, 28-29 March 2023 in Austin, Texas. Featuring a packed programme of panels, presentations and fireside chats from industry leaders focusing on accelerating the market for energy storage across the country. For more information, go to the website.

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