California aims to obtain half of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030, and on March 23 solar and wind supplied 49.2 percent of power demand. But electric suppliers still face issues when the sun stops shining or wind stops blowing. So General Electric (GE) came up with a hybrid system to help provide power reliably in the supply gaps.

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Grid-scale batteries could fill those supply gaps, but they’re still expensive and have not yet been widely deployed. Peakers, or turbines burning natural gas, offered a flawed answer; they take several minutes to get going so operators had to run them at minimum load even when they weren’t needed, generating greenhouse gas emissions. GE’s hybrid system combines peakers and batteries for a more environmentally friendly option.

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GE’s hybrid system is comprised of a 10 megawatt lithium-ion battery and their LM6000 gas turbine – “a nimble peaker with jet engine technology at its core.” When renewables aren’t generating as much power, the batteries in the hybrid system can take over while the turbine ramps up. The system could ensure as California transitions to renewables, people can reliably obtain electricity no matter the weather.

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General Manager for Digital Grid at Grid Solutions from GE Energy Connections Mirko Molinari said, “It’s a hybrid of both worlds. The battery is quick and clean, and the turbine is giving you the power you need. It’s reliable power because it’s always there, and you also get the environmental benefits.”

The team considers their hybrid system to be similar to hybrid cars; electric cars are the goal but hybrid cars are a stepping stone until battery costs drop further. According to GE Power Services General Manager, Aeroderivative Product Line Selma Kirvan, hybrid solutions like GE’s could support California’s higher renewable mix. Southern California Edison is deploying the hybrid system at two sites close to Los Angeles.

Via GE Reports

Images via GE Reports/GE Energy Connections