New York utility Con Edison signs deal for 100MW battery project at former fossil fuel plant site

Con Edison previously collaborated with Enel X to bring online New York City's largest energy storage system so far, a 4.8MW / 16.4MWh project at a Brooklyn shopping centre. Image: Enel X via Twitter.

An agreement has been signed for a 100MW / 400MWh battery storage project in Queens, New York, by utility company Con Edison and Hanwha Group-affiliated renewable energy developer 174 Power Global.

The project will be one of the world’s larger battery storage projects to date and the US state’s largest so far by some distance - currently the only transmission-connected battery project in New York is the 20MW KCE NY 1 project completed by developer Key Capture Energy a while back, although many more multi-megawatt projects are thought to be on the way albeit outside of New York's densely populated urban areas. 

Utility company Con Edison, which serves 10 million people in New York City and Westchester County areas of New York State, said yesterday that the agreement will see 174 Power Global build and own the new East River Energy Storage System in Astoria, Queens. The containerised battery system will be connected to a Con Edison transmission substation.

The project is being built on land owned by state utility New York Power Authority (NYPA), on a site formerly occupied by a 885MW natural gas and oil power plant. The official NYPA Twitter account tweeted that the utility played a role "in identifying available land in NYC and running an open competitive process to provide leases to developers” during bidding run by Con Edison.

NYPA, a state public-benefit corporation, itself just released a strategic plan and roadmap for advancing the transition to clean energy which includes a pledge to support the development and demonstration of short- and long-duration energy storage technologies. NYPA president and CEO Gil Quiniones commented that his organisation was “pleased to have a role in this project”.

“The adaptive reuse of this land for energy storage development will help realise continued growth of renewable energy and bring greater flexibility and resiliency to New York State's electric grid,” Quiniones said.

“This is just a first step in using our assets as a catalyst and test bed for clean energy technologies.”

174 Power Global was awarded the project through a competitive solicitation process, having responded to a Request for Proposals (RFP) launched by Con Edison in July 2019. The utility will bid power from the batteries into the wholesale market, under a seven-year contract with the developer, which must obtain necessary permits for building and operating the project before the end of 2022. Con Edison will net revenues obtained from the system’s participation in the wholesale market.

Con Edison said the batteries will be charged with electricity from the grid at cheaper, off-peak times and then discharged to help meet times of peak demand. The utility said this will contribute to reducing the state’s reliance on fossil fuel power plants, with Con Edison pledging to offer its customers the option of 100% clean electricity by 2040 and the state of New York targeting 70% renewable electricity by 2030 on its networks, through its Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act legislation.

That act also calls for the deployment of 3,000MW of energy storage by that date to support decarbonisation and increased efficiency and reliability in the power system. Con Edison claimed that large procurements like the one pertaining to the 400MWh East River project “make it more economical for storage to enter the market”.

So far, the utility has been involved in a 2MW battery project in Queens which enhances electricity supply reliability and a 1MW demonstration project at a customer site, as well as the largest battery project in urban New York City, a 4.8MW / 16.4MWh system at a shopping centre in Brooklyn built with technology and solutions provider Enel X.

The utility’s president, Tim Cawley, said that the project will also “help to maximise the benefit of wind power being developed offshore,” with about 9GW of offshore wind turbines expected to be installed in the coming years in New York State.

“Expanding battery storage is a critical part of how we advance momentum to confront the climate emergency while meeting the energy needs of all New Yorkers. Today's announcement demonstrates how we can deliver this need at significant scale,” the City of New York’s director of sustainability, Mark Chambers, said.

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