Before we dive in, let‘s first tackle the question – what are the 12 biggest battery energy storage systems currently operating around the world?
Based on their power capacity and energy storage capabilities, these mammoth batteries represent some of the most cutting-edge grid-scale energy storage projects built to date.
Below I‘ve ranked the 12 largest batteries globally by their total energy storage capacity, measured in megawatt-hours (MWh). We‘ll explore each project in more detail throughout this article.
|1||Dalian Vanadium Flow Battery||Dalian, China||400 MWh|
|2||Moss Landing||California, USA||1,600 MWh|
|3||Victoria Big Battery||Geelong, Australia||450 MWh|
|4||Hornsdale Power Reserve||South Australia||194 MWh|
|5||Gateway Energy Storage||California, USA||250 MWh|
|6||Minami Hayakita Substation||Fukushima, Japan||240 MWh|
|7||Grand Ridge Energy Storage||Illinois, USA||207 MWh|
|8||Escondida Battery||Chile||200 MWh|
|9||Buzen Substation||Fukuoka, Japan||300 MWh|
|10||Manatee Energy Storage Center||Florida, USA||409 MWh|
|11||Azelio Energy Storage Project||China||200 MWh|
|12||Howard Energy Storage Facility||New York, USA||129 MWh|
Now let‘s look at what makes each of these battery giants tick.
1. Dalian Vanadium Flow Battery – 400 MWh
Location: Dalian, China
Capacity: 100 MW / 400 MWh
Technology: Vanadium flow battery
China‘s massive Dalian flow battery is the largest non-lithium battery in the world with a whopping 400 MWh capacity. That‘s enough to meet the average daily electricity needs of over 130,000 Chinese households!
This giant battery utilizes vanadium flow battery technology – a unique approach compared to the lithium-ion batteries in most grid-scale projects. Flow batteries store energy in external liquid electrolyte tanks, rather than solid electrodes.
The Dalian flow battery was designed and built by Dalian Rongke Power and the Chinese Academy of Sciences at an impressive cost of $300 million USD. It just came online in 2022.
So how does this mammoth battery work? It uses large storage tanks filled with liquid vanadium electrolyte. When the battery charges, vanadium ions are oxidized on the positive side and reduced on the negative side, storing chemical potential energy. During discharge, the ions flow back across the central membrane in the opposite direction, releasing electricity.
By using tanks of liquid electrolyte, flow batteries can easily scale up to massive storage capacities. And because only the electrolyteliquids need changing occasionally, not the whole battery, vanadium flow batteries have lifespans over 20 years – much longer than lithium-ion alternatives.
China‘s mega flow battery will play a vital role in managing peaks and troughs in electricity demand as the country transitions to using more renewables like wind and solar. By charging up when demand is low and dispatching power during daily peaks, this giant battery will help balance the grid and integrate cleaner energy.
2. Moss Landing – 1,600 MWh
Location: California, USA
Capacity: 400 MW / 1,600 MWh
Currently the world‘s largest lithium-ion battery, the Moss Landing project in California has a mammoth capacity of 1,600 MWh – about 3.5 times larger than its next biggest rival.
To put that in perspective, Moss Landing can provide enough electricity to power over 1 million Californian homes for 4 whole hours when discharging at max capacity!
The project was developed by energy company Vistra Energy at a cost of $450 million USD. Construction began in 2019, with the first 300 MW/1,200 MWh phase completed in 2020, followed by a second 100 MW/400 MWh phase in 2021.
So how does Moss Landing work? The battery consists of 4,500 battery racks using Tesla‘s cutting-edge Megapack technology. Inside each Megapack are smaller battery modules containing thousands of lithium-ion cells, similar to those inside an electric vehicle.
This gigantic battery plays a crucial role in stabilizing California‘s power grid and integrating renewable energy. During the day, it can charge up by absorbing excess solar power that would otherwise be curtailed. Then when electricity demand peaks in the evening, Moss Landing feeds power back into the grid to meet that high demand.
Without this massive battery, California would need to rely more heavily on natural gas "peaker" plants to provide evening power, producing more carbon emissions. By using Moss Landing‘s stored solar energy instead, California can integrate more renewables and accelerate its transition to carbon-free electricity.
Vistra Energy expects Moss Landing will save California utility customers over $100 million in its first decade of operation. So this mammoth battery is not only powerful, but it also packs economic benefits too!
3. Victoria Big Battery – 450 MWh
Location: Geelong, Australia
Capacity: 300 MW / 450 MWh
Down Under in Australia lies the Victoria Big Battery, with a capacity of 450 MWh. Built by Neoen and Tesla in just 6 months, this giant battery provides enough electricity to power over 1 million Aussie homes for 20 minutes at max discharge.
The A$84 million project entered operation in 2021, helping to modernize and stabilize Victoria‘s electricity grid. With ambitions to reach 50% renewable energy by 2030, Victoria is relying on big batteries like this to balance supply and demand.
So how does Victoria Big Battery work? The project utilizes over 200 Tesla Megapack systems – the same technology as Moss Landing. Inside each Megapack container sit smaller battery modules with lithium-ion cells. Combined, these Megapacks provide a massive 300 MW of discharge power and 450 MWh of storage.
By responding in fractions of a second when the grid needs support, the Victoria Big Battery delivers crucial services like frequency regulation and emergency power reserves. It also reduces congestion on Victoria‘s transmission lines.
In its first year, the project generated over A$18 million in cost savings by stabilizing the grid during periods of instability. With more coal plants set to retire, we can expect the Victoria Big Battery to play an even greater role in firming renewable energy.
4. Hornsdale Power Reserve – 194 MWh
Location: South Australia
Capacity: 150 MW / 194 MWh
When it was completed in 2017, Hornsdale Power Reserve held the title of world‘s largest lithium-ion battery with 194 MWh of storage. Developed by Neoen using Tesla batteries, Hornsdale cost A$90 million and helps stabilize South Australia‘s electricity grid.
Following major blackouts in 2016, Tesla built Hornsdale in just 62 days to provide emergency power reserves for South Australia‘s grid, which has a high penetration of wind and solar generation.
The battery has a 194 MWh capacity – enough to power over 30,000 homes for an hour. By charging up when supply exceeds demand and dispatching electricity during shortfalls, Hornsdale Power Reserve balances variable renewable energy and improves power reliability.
Since opening, the battery has already delivered over A$150 million in savings by providing stability services during times of volatility. And in 2020, Tesla expanded the system by 50% to help manage the retirement of coal plants in South Australia.
Not only is Hornsdale Power Reserve helping South Australia integrate more renewables, but it‘s also paying for itself through the essential grid services it provides – proving battery storage can be a win-win for stability and affordability.
In just a few short years, massive battery farms around the globe have revolutionized how we store and use energy. From California‘s Moss Landing, with enough capacity to power 1 million homes, to South Australia‘s Hornsdale Power Reserve helping enable a renewable energy future, these projects showcase the versatility of grid-scale batteries.
As battery costs continue rapidly declining, expect to see batteries get even bigger, exceeding well over 1,000 MWh in capacity. Along with pumped hydro and green hydrogen, tomorrow‘s mammoth batteries will play an indispensable role in reaching carbon neutral electricity systems worldwide.
What other jaw-dropping battery projects do you think we‘ll see in the years ahead? Let me know in the comments what capabilities you find most exciting about grid-scale energy storage!