Delivering on the CAISO Vision

The CAISO Stakeholders Symposium will focus on the vision of obtaining “two-thirds of [California’s] electricity from non-fossil, non-nuclear resources” by 2030.  The CAISO Board of Governors has outlined its vision, which goes beyond the state’s mandated Renewable Portfolio Standard, to embrace even more renewable generation. While this stretch target has many clear benefits for millions of California residents, it also creates some very real challenges that will require new and perhaps non-traditional solutions to move CAISO’s vision forward. One of the most critical challenges is maintaining the high level of reliability that Californians have become used to, with the natural gas generation fleet being put into a “supporting role”.

Achieving the “two-thirds by 2030” target relies heavily on two things happening: (1) gas generation becomes more efficient and flexible, and (2) vast amounts of bulk energy storage will be capable and available to absorb and time-shift solar and wind energy.  Fortunately, the energy storage need is do-able, thanks to technology made possible by Pintail Power, a California based company.  Pintail Power’s patent-pending Liquid Air Power & Storage (LAPS) technology can be integrated with any combustion turbine to add storage, reduce fuel consumption and carbon emissions, and reduce energy cost.

How is this possible and want is “LAPS”? LAPS is a large-scale energy storage technology that uses cryogenic liquid air as the storage medium, and is based on simple principles:

  • Air is plentiful, free and non-toxic.
  • Thermal phase change is the lowest cost energy storage medium.
  • Liquid air is compact and stored safely at low pressure.
  • Larger temperature differences yield higher thermodynamic efficiency:
  • Proven industrial equipment is available from a global supply chain
  • Additional storage is available at modest cost and the system benefits from economy of scale reduces costs.

What are the benefits provided by LAPS energy storage? A new study for a California municipal utility shows that converting one combustion turbine at a two-unit peaking plant to LAPS technology would:

  • cut fuel consumption and CO2 emissions in half (-49%).
  • increase capacity (+33%), 
  • increase energy delivery (26%)
  • reduce marginal energy cost (-22%) 

Bottom line, the LAPS system would discharge 5 or more hours on more than 100 days per year, based on the historical Locational Marginal Price (LMP) (assume that the intended audience will see the benefit as written…if not, we may need to clarify what this means).  LAPS’ low marginal capital cost for additional storage and low energy prices from Duck Curve over-generation is an economical combination for this utility.

How does LAPS compare to other in-market technology? Compared to batteries, the LAPS system is expected to have

  • Lower first cost and longer equipment life than batteries
  • Lower marginal capex to increase the storage capacity
  • Lower land area to increase storage capacity
  • Lower parasitic load during standby

Compared to traditional Pumped Storage or Compressed Air Energy Storage, LAPS is it is not constrained by geology so it is easier to site.

As you can see, LAPS systems from Pintail Power can meet the CAISO vision by increasing efficiency to reduce natural gas use, storing massive quantities of renewable energy cost-effectively, and maintaining the reliability of the electric grid.

For more information, email bill.conlon@pintailpower.com.

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