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‘USA’s largest’: Florida Power & Light announces 74.5MW / 40MWh solar-plus-storage project

Florida Light & Power's DeSoto 25MW solar facility. Image: FPL / Douglas Murray.

US utility Florida Light & Power (FPL) has followed up the US’ first DC-coupled grid-scale battery system with the announcement of a solar-plus-storage project pairing 10MW / 40MWh of energy storage with an existing 74.5MW PV plant.

The output of FPL’s Babcock Ranch Solar Center in Charlotte County, installed in 2016, will be made dispatchable with the addition of the battery, storing power when the sun is shining and then outputting it when cloud cover or other factors cause dips or drops in generation. The solar-plus-storage plant will also be used to mitigate peaks in network demand, like early evenings when solar production has tailed off but households return from their days work and switch on their domestic appliances. In Florida, the need for air conditioning can especially drive peak demand.

“FPL is building an incredible amount of solar power cost-effectively so we can bring the economic and environmental benefits to all of our customers while keeping their bills among the lowest in the nation,” FPL CEO and president Eric Silagy said.

“At the same time, we continue to innovate every single day, and the new system we unveiled today is a shining example of how we're changing the current.”

Babcock Ranch town itself is undergoing an ambitious transformation to “full reliance on clean renewable energy”.

While there are energy storage systems with larger outputs and capacities – several projects built in California to deal with the loss of network capacity through the Aliso Canyon gas leak are at or around the 100MWh mark, this could be the biggest combined solar system connected to energy storage in the US – for now. For instance, First Solar just announced its own 50MW battery project, tied to a 65MW solar farm, with Arizona Public Service. .

FPL, part of the NextEra Energy group, operates around 140MW / 150MWh of advanced battery energy storage projects already. FPL said it has filed plans to develop 50MW of energy storage under a rate agreement with regulator Florida Public Service Commission in 2016 “over the next few years”.