A few years back, Tesla built a giant battery in southern Australia. Now, the company may be doing the same thing in Texas. The Australian battery has been hailed as a success since coming online, and someone in Texas has evidently had a similar idea.
Bloomberg reports that the new battery installation will be larger than 100MW and will store enough power to provide 20,000 homes with an hour of electricity on a hot summer day. The facility is being built by Gambit Energy Storage LLC, but Gambit’s headquarters are listed at the same address as a Tesla building near its Fremont auto plant.
This new battery installation is adjacent to a Texas-New Mexico power substation, but the utility’s name is a bit misleading in this case. TNMP moved all of its New Mexico-based business to a sister company back in 2006 and currently provides service only within Texas. The company claims some 255,000 customers. Interestingly, TNMP was itself recently acquired by Avangrid. The renewable energy division of Avangrid, Avangrid Renewables LLC, is said to be the third-largest wind power operator in the United States.
These particulars go some way to explaining why TNMP, specifically, might be investing in a large battery backup system, even before Texas’ massive winter storm. The Bloomberg story doesn’t say if the new battery installation was commissioned before or after the storm, but the additional stored energy could have been used to buffer demand as Texas struggled to keep its power generation capabilities online.
Texas’s woes are an excellent argument for battery backups regardless of whether said battery is deployed as part of a renewable installation. Texas didn’t lose power because it relies partly on renewable energy to meet its energy needs. It lost power because the vast majority of its energy-generating equipment wasn’t winterized. Wind turbines and natural gas wellheads both froze in the storm, cutting off the supply of energy right when Texans needed it the most. The new 100MW+ facility won’t just be useful during freak cold snaps. It can also deliver additional electricity for air conditioning at times when conventional generation facilities are strained by demand.