OCI/Younicos to build Texas's first grid-scale PV-plus-storage system

German storage specialist Younicos will build a battery system alongside an OCI solar project in Texas, in what will become the first grid-scale solar-plus-storage system serving the ERCOT power market.

Using batteries from Korea’s LG Chem, Younicos will design and build a 1MW storage system at a utility-scale PV project owned by OCI, with the battery system due online in early 2016.

The deal marks the beginning of a “strategic relationship” between OCI Solar Power, a subsidiary of South Korean chemicals giant OCI, and Younicos, a Berlin-based storage start-up which recently opened a technology centre in Austin, Texas. The two companies will look to partner on future projects within the growing global market for power plants incorporating solar and storage, they say.

OCI launched itself into the US solar market in 2012 through its groundbreaking deal with CPS Energy, San Antonio’s municipal utility, with OCI committing to build 400MW of local solar capacity while creating hundreds of local jobs.

Although OCI has hit some bumps in Texas, it remains on track to meet its commitments to CPS Energy. In the meantime Texas has begun to take off as a solar market.

To date, OCI has grid-connected nearly 100MW of solar in Texas across its Alamo 1-4 projects, with another 300MW due online by the end of 2016.

The link-up with OCI adds further momentum to Younicos’ push into the US, which has become the world’s most vibrant market for utility-scale storage. This summer Younicos landed an order from Duke Energy Renewables to upgrade the 36MW storage system in place at its 153MW Notrees wind farm in Texas, with the batteries providing frequency regulation services in the ERCOT market.

The batteries that will go up at OCI's solar project, presumably, will provide similar grid-balancing services.

While many experts believe the largest market for stationary energy storage will be toward the distribution end of the electricity system, the number of utility-scale wind and solar projects with on-site storage is growing.

Earlier this month SolarCity signed what it described as the first ever PPA for dispatchable utility-scale solar energy with a utility in Hawaii.

SolarCity will build a 52MWh battery system alongside a utility-scale PV plant, allowing it to feed solar power into Kaua’i’s grid into the evening hours.

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