Siemens Energy handling EPC work on black-start battery system at California gas-fired plant

Photo courtesy Kiewit

By Rod Walton, Power Engineering and POWERGEN+ content director

Siemens Energy will handle engineering, procurement and construction duties to building a battery-based, black-start generation system at a California power plant.

The 720-MW Marsh Landing Generating Station near Antioch, California was built for NRG Energy nearly eight years ago. Siemens Energy announced Thursday it was selected to provide the black-start capabilities allowing the station to restart electricity to auxiliary systems in the case of an outage or blackout situation.

Siemens Energy will engineer and build a customized battery energy storage system (“BESS”) that can support up to three attempts to restart a unit at Marsh Landing within one hour. 

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Traditional emergency back-up systems run on diesel generators or small, fossil fuel industrial turbines.  By contrast, the BESS-based black-start system operates in a carbon-neutral way to start one of the plant’s four combustion turbine generator units. 

In addition to the BESS, the project will involve transformers to increase voltage, switch gear to integrate the BESS into the broader Marsh Landing system, electrical, civil and structural engineering and control system modifications. 

“Battery storage systems like this one are capable of fully restarting power on a highly expedited basis,” said Laura Anderson, senior vice president, Controls and Digitalization for Siemens Energy North America.  “We are excited to lead this project at Marsh Landing because it will not only help to restore power quickly in the event of an outage, but it will reduce emissions over traditional back-up systems.  It will also improve grid reliability in the Bay Area.”

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The Marsh Landing Generating Station is a four-unit simple-cycle plant and was one of Siemens Energy’s first “Flex-Power” plants, which are capable of fast starts that minimize emissions while ramping up to full power in only 12 minutes. Siemens Energy supplied the four gas turbines, four generators, the SPPA-T3000 distributed control system and auxiliary and secondary systems for the plant.

Siemens will partner with Clearway Energy on the project.

“Battery storage will play an increasingly important role in both securing the power grid and enabling renewable energy generation,” said Chad Plotkin, chief financial officer at Clearway Energy. “We are excited to work with Siemens Energy on this strategically important project at Marsh Landing to deliver long-term grid resilience and continue to act as a source of reliable power supply to the Bay Area.”

Work on the project has already begun, with the project scheduled to commence in the summer.

Siemens Energy is a spinoff of global technology giant Siemens AG. It was separated from the main company last year.

(Rod Walton is a 13-year veteran of covering the energy industry, including oil and gas as well as the power generation, transmission and distribution sectors. He is content director for Power Engineering, POWERGEN International and the POWERGEN+ series. Walton can be reached at 918-831-9177 and

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