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Wisconsin’s first large-scale solar-plus-storage could pair 310MW of solar with 110MW battery system

Developer Invenergy has built some of the US’ largest renewable energy facilities including hybrids paired with battery storage. Image: Invenergy-Sinexcel.

The US state of Wisconsin’s first large-scale solar farm only went online in late 2020, but electric and gas delivery holding company WEC Energy Group has just proposed plans for a 310MW solar power plant with 110MW of battery storage.

The proposal for the Paris Solar-Battery Park in Kenosha County was filed with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin yesterday. If approved, construction would begin in 2022 for commissioning in 2023. WEC Energy Group, which serves around 4.6 million customers in four states, said that two of its utility subsidiaries, Wisconsin Public Service and We Energies, would own 90% of the project. Another smaller Wisconsin utility provider, Madison Gas & Electric (MGE), would own the remaining 10%.

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Paris-Solar Battery Park is under development by Chicago-headquartered multinational solar, wind and gas project developer Invenergy. The company appears to have begun development in 2017 as Paris Solar Farm, when it was planned as a 200MW PV plant without any energy storage combined with it.

Expected megawatt-hour capacity figures for the battery portion of the plant were not revealed by WEC in a press release the company issued today, but it did say the battery storage system will be used to make solar-generated power dispatchable into the late afternoon and evening.

WEC plans to invest US$2 billion in new solar, wind and battery storage projects by 2025, which it said would create jobs and provide economic stimulus to Wisconsin if built there. The group wants to reduce its carbon emissions by 70% by 2030 and achieve carbon neutral generation by 2050.

According to local news sources, Wisconsin has around 130MW of rooftop solar on residential and commercial buildings. However, Two Creeks Solar Facility (150MW), the first large-scale solar PV plant was only inaugurated in the state in November last year, developed and built by NextEra Energy Resources, the development arm of integrated energy company NextEra. Local advocacy group RENEW Wisconsin said that Madison Gas & Electric also connected two smaller solar farms to the grid last year, with a combined capacity of 14MW.

Two Creeks went into the joint ownership of MGE and Wisconsin Public Service. Now also under development is the 300MW Badger Hollow Solar Farm in Wisconsin’s Iowa County, also through Invenergy and again to be jointly-owned by Wisconsin Public Service and MGE. Paris-Solar Battery Park is thought to be the state’s first large-scale battery plant with solar.

While battery storage development in the US has largely been concentrated in leading states such as California, New York, Hawaii and Texas, the past few months  have seen report on battery storage and colocated or combined renewables-plus-storage projects in Midwestern and central US states Indiana and Kansas as coal plant phaseouts gather pace. In 2019, Wisconsin's Governor Tony Evers signed off an Executive Order mandating carbon-free electricity in the state by 2050 while another Wisconsin utility, Alliant Energy, has pledged to build 1GW of solar PV by 2023

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