On Monday, a fire broke out at the Valley Center energy storage facility in San Diego County, California. According to Terra-Gen, the owner of the facility, the fire started in a battery storage facility. As a result, surrounding homes and businesses were evacuated and a shelter-in-place order was issued for people within a half-mile radius.
The Valley Center Energy Storage Facility is a standalone energy storage project with a capacity of 139 MW. It is located within a commercial and industrial zone on a 7 hectare property. The system stores electricity in lithium-ion batteries housed in racks in closed enclosures. The stored energy is discharged through an inverter transformer, which converts it from DC to AC, and delivered to the nearby SDG&E Valley Center substation.
Lithium-ion batteries are known to pose a risk of fire, explosion and exposure to toxic chemicals. In 2019, the McMicken Fire in Arizona highlighted the potential dangers of battery energy storage systems. As a result, in 2023, the National Fire Protection Association revised its regulations to reflect lessons learned from this incident. American Clean Power has also published guidance for first responders on how to respond to emergencies involving lithium-ion battery energy storage systems.
This is the second fire incident at the Valley Center Energy Storage Facility, the first occurring in March of this year due to a faulty sprinkler system. However, Terra-Gen maintains that the facility’s planning systems effectively contained both incidents.
Recently, the California Public Utilities Commission approved a plan to expand renewable energy and storage capacity in the state. The goal is to add more than 25.5 GW of renewable energy and 15 GW of storage by 2032, which will cost $49 billion. This expansion is critical to preventing blackouts, stabilizing the grid and managing peak power demand, especially in regions prone to high temperatures and wildfires.
Terra-Gen, owner of the Valley Center Energy Storage Facility, currently operates four battery storage projects in California with a total capacity of more than 1.5 GW. The company has another 1 GW under construction, which is expected to be operational by 2025. These projects not only contribute to the state’s energy storage capacity, but also provide economic benefits through job creation and increased employment. Property taxes.