Xcel Energy has received a grant of up to $70 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to partially fund two long-duration energy storage systems in Minnesota and Colorado.
Each demonstration-scale system will be a 10 MW/ 1,000 MWh iron-air battery developed by Massachusetts-based Form Energy to deliver electricity for up to 100 hours.
The batteries will be located at two retiring Xcel Energy coal plant sites: the Sherburne County 710 MW Generating Station in Becker, Minnesota, and the Comanche Generating Station in Pueblo, Colorado.
While the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved the project with the support of the Minnesota Department of Commerce, construction of the battery system in the state will start in the second quarter of 2024. The Colorado battery system is also anticipated to start in late 2024, after approval from the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.
“As we explore cutting-edge technologies to accelerate our journey toward 100% carbon-free electricity, we are committed to also keeping our services affordable for our customers,” said Bob Frenzel, Chairman, President, and CEO of Xcel Energy. “The Department of Energy grant provides crucial financial support for projects that will provide reliable, low-cost renewable energy to the communities we serve.”
The systems will allow Xcel Energy to store renewable energy in production and later distribute it, once operational, during lower renewable production periods. This will strengthen the grid against the variable demand of renewable energy.
“As we build our clean energy future, reliable energy storage systems will play a key role in protecting communities by providing dependable sources of electricity when and where it’s needed most, particularly in the aftermath of extreme weather events or natural disasters,” said U.S Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm.
In April, Xcel Energy received a $20 million grant from the Breakthrough Energy Catalyst fund for emerging climate technologies to reduce emissions and accelerate the clean energy transition. The Breakthrough grant provides $10 million each for the Minnesota and Colorado battery systems, subject to certain funding conditions.
Xcel Energy plans to use provisions in the federal Inflation Reduction Act, such as standalone storage tax credits, to further lower the iron-air batteries' cost.