World’s Largest Battery Facility Expanded

Increased investments in large-scale battery storage projects will help America move toward a zero-carbon electricity system.

Outside battery building
Vistra recently completed construction on Phase II of its Moss Landing Energy Storage Facility. .


Vistra Energy has expanded the world’s largest battery facility in California, a state that is boosting investments in renewable energy storage in a bid to decarbonize its power sector. 

Following the 100-megawatt expansion, the Moss Landing lithium-ion system in Monterey County now has a total capacity of 400 megawatts/1,600 megawatt-hours.

California is the U.S. state that generates the most solar energy. Last year, its 770 solar facilities generated 29,440 gigawatt-hours of energy or 15.4% of all the electricity produced there—a number that goes above 20% when small-scale solar generation is added.

By prioritizing investments in renewable energy, California has been able to slash carbon emissions in recent years but to meet its goal of decarbonizing its power sector by 2045, the Golden State will need to build more large-scale battery facilities to ensure that its power grid is more reliable. That’s in large part because solar farms don’t generate energy at nighttime.

"California produces an excess amount of renewable power during the day while the sun is up, but often struggles to meet demand as the sun goes down. Our Moss Landing battery system helps to fill that reliability gap, storing the excess daytime power so it doesn't go to waste and then releasing it to the grid when it's needed most," said Vistra CEO Curt Morgan. 

The facility currently holds a 300-megawatt battery and a 100-megawatt battery that together store enough electricity to power around 300,000 Californian homes for four hours, and Vistra envisions boosting the facility’s capacity to 1,500 megawatts—almost a four-fold increase.

“California leads the country in the transition away from fossil fuels and the Moss Landing Energy Storage Facility stands as a model for how batteries can support intermittent renewables to help create a reliable grid of the future,” Morgan added.

The facility is within the grounds of the Moss Landing Power Plant, a natural gas power plant whose smock stacks are visible through the Monterrey area and which is controlled by Dynegy, a Vistra subsidiary.

“I think taking that site and converting it into something that is new and exciting and utilizes an old site that would have been an eyesore for years to come is probably the most exciting thing for me,” Morgan said.

Energy Storage Room

The Moss Landing energy storage facility is part of a broader plan to build large-scale batteries across the U.S. to store renewable electricity, hence addressing one of the main challenges for green energy, the “intermittency” of wind and solar farms—meaning it can’t produce electricity when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and Tesla are building a 182.5 megawatt/730 megawatt-hours lithium-ion battery energy storage system at Moss Landing, Canadian Solar is developing a 350 megawatt/1,400 megawatt-hours battery storage facility called Crimson in Riverside County, and Arevon Energy recently brought online another large energy storage facility in California featuring Tesla Megapacks.

California is leading this storage energy boom but many other states are following suit. 

Large-scale energy storage facilities are planned for Florida, Texas, and Hawaii and Vistra envisions turning coal power plants in Ohio and Illinois into renewable and energy storage facilities as part of its plans to move into a “low carbon future.”

Thanks in large part to falling battery prices, in 2020, U.S. battery power capacity reached 1,650MW, a 35% increase from the year before. 

“The trend is expected to continue; utilities have reported plans to install over 10,000MW of additional large-scale battery power capacity in the United States from 2021 to 2023—10 times the capacity in 2019,” the Energy Information Administration said last week.

Battery storage facilities are a centerpiece of President Joe Biden’s efforts to decarbonize the energy sector by 2035 because they could eventually allow utility companies to shut down plants that burn natural gas or coal to produce electricity. 

Furthermore, they make energy grids more resilient to extreme climate events, like heat waves, wildfires, and storms. This is particularly important in California, where wildfires and demand surges during the summer months often force utility companies to implement rolling blackouts.

The Energy Storage Association (ESA) celebrated the passage of the $1 trillion infrastructure package in the Senate earlier this month by noting that it “will boost U.S. storage technology manufacturing, increase investments in energy storage and ... accelerate next-generation storage technologies.”

But ESA said the infrastructure package won’t be enough and called on lawmakers to approve tax credits for stand-alone energy storage facilities to “accelerate storage deployments to the pace needed to meet the climate crisis, decarbonizing our power system and making it resilient to extreme weather that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports will become more intense and frequent.”