Sungrow awarded supply contract for one of Texas’ largest battery projects so far

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A solar-plus-storage project in Jacksonville, Florida, US, supplied by Sungrow. Image: Sungrow.

Solar inverter manufacturer Sungrow’s energy storage system (ESS) solution will power a 100MWac battery storage project in Texas which is scheduled to go into operation in mid-2021.

Sungrow said in a press release last week that a contract has been signed to supply the fully integrated battery storage system to the Chisholm Grid project. Chisholm Grid will be among a large number of new-build battery systems playing into the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) wholesale market, generating revenues from providing energy and ancillary services to ERCOT’s grid, which supplies more than 80% of the US state’s electricity.

In August last year, reported that developer Able Grid Energy Solutions had received a notice to proceed on the project, working as a joint venture (JV) with partner MAP RE/ES, a renewable energy investment firm. The project’s owner is Astral Electricity, an energy storage power producer, while Able Grid will provide operational asset management services for the system.

At the time of that report last summer the project was the largest standalone battery storage project announced so far in the state of Texas. Early moves to capitalise on the ERCOT opportunity in the past couple of years had led to numerous developers and power producers building projects of around 10MW.

As one developer, Broad Reach Power, explained at the time, many companies were testing the ERCOT waters with smaller projects in that time before scaling up: Broad Reach Power quickly developed 11 projects of 10MW/10MWh last year and is itself now developing two 100MW projects.

Others have also quickly caught up, including Key Capture Energy (KCE), a developer which is building three large-scale lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery-based storage systems totalling 200MW – one of 100MW and two of 50MW each – with technology partners Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems and Powin Energy. KCE’s CEO Jeff Bishop explained in an interview for an article in the latest edition of our journal PV Tech Power that “everyone told us it wasn’t a real market” when his company began developing projects there a couple of years ago, yet now, “everybody follows Texas”.

‘Battery energy storage at this scale is a safe, reliable and sustainable solution’

Meanwhile, Sungrow said the Chisholm Grid project’s solution will utilise nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) batteries alongside the company’s power conversion equipment and controls systems. Sungrow’s senior technical sales manager Neil Bradshaw said that safe operation of the system is of “vital concern” to his company and that the project can demonstrate that “battery energy storage at this scale is a safe, reliable and sustainable solution to ensure grid reliability amidst demanding market operating conditions”.

“Not only is every cell protected electrically in a three-tier battery management system (BMS) system with supervisory controls, but each small battery module has internal thermal barriers and suppression technology,” Bradshaw said.

“Years of innovation by Sungrow as a global technology leader now allows companies like Astral Electricity to deploy market-driven solutions that will accelerate the decarbonisation of electricity production while also improving grid resilience,” CEO of MAP RE/ES Aaron Zubaty said.

It’s an early 2021 project win for the Chinese inverter manufacturer which claimed to have received 1.4GWh of orders for energy storage projects in the US alone during last year. The company entered the battery storage market through a joint venture (JV) with battery maker Samsung SDI which went global in 2016 and began creating turnkey ESS solutions for both standalone and solar-plus-storage applications.  

Julian Jansen, associate director at the Gas, Power and Energy Futures Consulting team of research and analysis firm IHS Markit, said recently that diversification by solar inverter players like Sungrow into the energy storage system integration space presents competition for existing large players in that space such as Tesla and Fluence.

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