World’s largest battery storage facility offline until further notice, leaving California in power crunch

California’s electricity woes continue, as 75 percent of the capacity at the Moss Landing battery storage facility, a 400 megawatt (MW) lithium-ion battery that is supposed to help deliver electricity to the grid when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing, remains offline. The battery installation was shut down after smoke — but no fire — was discovered at the facility on Sept. 4, 2021.

According to the Monterey County Weekly:

Only nine months into operation and less than three weeks after Vistra cut the ribbon on an expansion, most of the largest battery storage facility in the world has gone dormant with no timeline for a return. An investigation is underway and details remain vague. Although the company has maintained its intention is to reopen the facility, they have made no guarantees.

This is a significant problem for California because the state has declared an electric grid reliability emergency, and every megawatt counts when electricity supplies are short.

Of course, California’s power conundrum is entirely self-inflicted. Over the past decade, the number of reliable power plants in California has declined as installations of solar panels have increased.

The graph below, which uses data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, shows the capacity of natural gas power plants has fallen significantly since 2013, falling by about 7,700 megawatts of installed capacity. Batteries were supposed to help fill this gap.

As we have said many times in the past, the Golden State is an example of what not to do. Unfortunately, Gov. Walz and President Biden appear destined to repeat California’s energy mistakes, which will lead to unreliable electricity supplies and skyrocketing costs.