Public-private partnership yields new 2.5 MW battery project in Iowa

Groups including the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s State Energy Office, the U.S. Office of Electricity, Alliant Energy, Iowa State University and the Clean Energy States Alliance have banded together to establish a 2.5 megawatt (MW) battery storage project in Decorah, Iowa.

Capable of storing 2.922 MW hours of energy, the battery will capture excess solar power as a means of supplementing the single electric circuit responsible for serving the entire community. Officials say that circuit will soon reach capacity as more customers add renewables to the mix. Alternatives were floated, but that would either mean restricting the number of solar arrays for the area or investing in expensive upgrades to the local grid.

Battery storage was deemed the cheaper option.

“This battery project is a game-changer in Decorah,“ Terry Kouba, president of Alliant Energy Iowa, said. “We’re installing it on a circuit that’s near capacity for solar. Using batteries can add critical capacity and may save our customers money, because a battery costs a fraction of the total to upgrade our system.”

Beyond capture of excess energy and the cost concerns, battery storage would then allow the company further capacity to release energy to the grid during times of peak demand. Other partners will be studying the pilot effort so as to inform future battery projects.

Jointly supported by a $250,000 cost-share from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity and a $200,000 grant from the Iowa Economic Development Authority, the battery will sit on land leased by Alliant Energy. Sandia National Laboratories will provide technical support and be responsible for collecting operational data. ISU will participate in the battery’s study.

Decorah’s new battery storage should come online by year’s end.