Xcel Energy Adds Two Energy Storage Projects - Smart Energy Decisions

Energy Storage, GHG Emissions, Industrial, Utilities  -  September 26, 2023

Xcel Energy Adds Two Energy Storage Projects

Xcel Energy announced that the natural gas and electric company received a grant of up to $70 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to partially fund two long-duration energy storage systems in Minnesota and Colorado.

Each demonstration-scale system will be a 10-megawatt/1,000-megawatt-hour, iron-air battery developed by Massachusetts-based Form Energy. 

The batteries will be located at the sites of two retiring Xcel Energy coal plants: the Sherburne County Generating Station in Becker, Minnesota, and the Comanche Generating Station in Pueblo, Colorado. 

The systems will allow Xcel Energy to store renewable energy such as solar and wind when it is being produced and distribute it later during periods of lower renewable production.

“As we explore cutting-edge technologies to accelerate our journey toward 100% carbon-free electricity, we are committed to also keep our services affordable for our customers,” said Bob Frenzel, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy, in a statement. “The Department of Energy grant provides crucial financial support for projects that will provide reliable, low-cost renewable energy to the communities we serve.”

Form Energy’s iron-air batteries deliver electricity for up to 100 hours, while current battery technologies serve fewer than eight hours of energy storage. 

Xcel Energy also received a $20 million grant commitment in April from the Breakthrough Energy Catalyst fund for emerging climate technologies to reduce emissions and accelerate the clean energy transition. The Breakthrough grant provides $10 million each for the Minnesota and Colorado battery systems, subject to the satisfaction of certain funding conditions.

The company also plans to use provisions in the federal Inflation Reduction Act, such as standalone storage tax credits, to lower the cost of the iron-air batteries.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission previously approved the project with the support of the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Construction of the battery system in Minnesota will be located near the future 710-megawatt Sherco Solar installation that is expected to start operating during the second quarter of 2024.

Pending approval from the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, work on the Colorado battery system could begin in late 2024. 

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