Batteries for gas: Behind FlexGen’s California co-location project to enhance peaker plants

Energy Storage News

Battery storage paired with smart controls systems can enhance the market and technical operation of power plant fleets, whether wind, solar, coal, gas or almost any generation other technology.  

In a recently announced project for independent power producer (IPP) Middle River Project, energy storage software and system integration specialist FlexGen will be putting battery storage systems at California natural gas power plants.

It’s just one of “countless” use cases where battery storage can enhance a power plant, FlexGen chief commercial officer Yann Brandt tells in an interview.

As reported by the site in mid-January, FlexGen will be integrating 420MW/420MWh of battery energy storage system (BESS) equipment at four existing and operational Middle River Project (MRP) natural gas power plants.

In addition to procuring battery hardware from supplier CATL, the main – and perhaps most important – role that FlexGen will be playing in the project is deploying its energy storage operating system, Hybrid OS, and controls to the battery systems.

“The key to it is that every project is a little bit unique on how energy storage is used, so you have to make sure that the energy storage control system, the operating system, runs in tandem to what’s already existing on site,” Brandt says.

“Similar situations happen in solar plants and wind plants, all those controls are already on site, you have to get them to talk to each other. With [thermal] power plants, especially peaking plants, that gets to be a little bit more complicated. What enhances the complication and means it requires more of a digital solution is that this is four projects, four different sites.”

However, Brandt says, that complication or complexity is what makes projects like this valuable. Energy companies will need to be able to control their assets at fleet level to get maximum value from them, meaning potentially hundreds of sites that may have different technology combinations.