South Sioux City in US To Add 1.5-MW of Battery Storage for Solar Project

The city of South Sioux City will become a “demonstration site” for the storage of electric power generated by the city’s 1,200-panel solar installation.

Solar Park in Nebraska

A large-scale battery with the capacity to store 1.5 megawatts of power will be installed by Florida-based NextEra Energy Inc. this winter, according to the City Administrator Lance Hedquist.

The battery system carries a price tag of about $1.8 million, but Hedquist said the cost will be whittled down by state funds and tax credits. He said the battery will probably have the appearance “of a semi-trailer without wheels,” and will be located by the city’s 21-acre, 2.3 megawatt solar panel site.

“As you know, wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine, and the big thing that will transform renewable energy is going to be battery storage,” Hedquist said to the local media at the solar park, located south of the northeast Nebraska city.

The city owns the land while the panels are owned by Tesla, who is California-based electric automaker.

Large batteries are considered a major hurdle for renewable energy — if a practical system could be developed, solar and wind power from sunny and windy days could be stored and used during darker, less-windy times.

The city’s two-year-old solar park provides roughly 5 percent of the city’s 45-MW electricity usage. That electricity costs roughly two-thirds the cost of electricity purchased from elsewhere.

In recent years, South Sioux City’s municipal electric utility has taken several steps to diversify its portfolio, adopt more renewable forms of energy and lessen its dependence on the Nebraska Public Power District, or NPPD, the state’s largest electrical utility.

The city now gets around half its electricity from renewable sources, including solar, wind and hydroelectric.

A year ago, the city also approved an agreement with NextEra Energy that could bring 15 megawatts — the equivalent of 33 percent of the city’s power needs — via the Cottonwood Wind Energy farm in south-central Nebraska’s Webster County.

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