Flow Batteries Picked For New Zealand’s Rural Telecoms Networks

on November 14, 2019

Australia-headquartered flow battery manufacturer Redflow’s zinc-bromine based devices have been picked by the New Zealand Rural Connectivity Group to help extend mobile coverage and internet connectivity to thousands of homes and businesses in remote areas.

New Zealand’s government created the RCG in 2017 as a critical infrastructure project aiming to extend mobile and wireless broadband coverage out to more than 34,000 rural homes and businesses, add 1,000km of mobile coverage to state highways and build 400 new cell sites in the process. The government is funding the RCG through a Telecommunications Development Levy, as well as a contribution of NZ$75 million (US$48.1 million) from New Zealand’s mobile network operators.

Redflow’s batteries will be paired with solar panels and backed up with a generator for the RCG sites. Redflow said that while its zinc-bromine batteries have been selected, commercial negotiations are now underway to “establish a direct relationship” for the purchase of batteries. The RCG project is aimed for completion by December 2022, while the first deployment of Redflow batteries looks likely to be installed by the end of this year, Redflow said.

“We have closely examined Redflow’s energy storage technology and believe it provides a compelling solution for RCG due to its deep cycling capability, its long life and its environmental benefits over competing technologies,” RCG head of procurement and commercial, Richard Spencer, said.

Energy-Storage.news recently reported on Redflow’s second telecoms sector deal in South Africa, where telecoms towers are being repowered with the company’s ZBM2 battery units. Redflow pointed out in a press release that it has also executed an off-grid project for Vodafone New Zealand, while company managing director and CEO Tim Harris said Redflow and RCG have been working together for about six months to reach this point. The roll-out will include some grid-connected as well as off-grid areas.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsFlow Batteries Picked For New Zealand’s Rural Telecoms Networks

Energy Storage Firm ESS Delivers Flow Battery System To Camp Pendleton

on May 17, 2019

ESS Inc., a maker of energy storage systems, deployed an Energy Warehouse long-duration flow battery system at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in San Diego, California.

The 50 kW / 400 kWh battery is integrated into a microgrid with a CleanSpark microgrid controller and provides up to eight hours of storage to enable back-up capabilities for critical loads; operational energy cost savings through on-site generation with storage; and full islanding capabilities for resilience.

The project is being completed in partnership with the project’s prime contractor, Bethel-Webcor JV.

“We are pleased to commission our second Energy Warehouse system in a military microgrid application,” said Craig Evans, Founder and CEO of ESS Inc. “Camp Pendleton is the Marine Corps’ largest West Coast expeditionary training facility for Marine, Army and Navy units. The Camp will especially benefit from our battery’s solar-plus-storage capabilities, which enable the microgrid to store excess solar energy for later use during times of peak electricity demand.”

“We are proud to partner with ESS Inc. for the Camp Pendleton project, as it marks the first-ever deployment of a solar-plus-storage system utilizing an iron flow battery,” said Anthony Vastola, SVP of Projects for CleanSpark. “The solution operates in off-grid mode by default so as to maximize efficiency, utilize solar over-generation and extend the overall life of the system. As a whole, we expect the microgrid will provide energy and cost-savings, as well as improved energy security, to Camp Pendleton for years to come.”

CleanSpark provides advanced energy software and control technology that enables a plug-and-play enterprise solution to modern energy challenges. Our services consist of intelligent energy monitoring and controls, microgrid design and engineering, microgrid consulting services, and turnkey microgrid implementation services.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsEnergy Storage Firm ESS Delivers Flow Battery System To Camp Pendleton

‘Leapfrogging’ The Grid: Hybrid Lithium-Flow in Action at A Remote Thai Village Microgrid

on April 16, 2019

While energy storage, like the electrification of transport, is often discussed as the ‘Next Big Thing’ for first world economies, this emerging technology is starting to play an important role in developing nations too. Just as mobile telephony revolutionised telecommunications in developing economies during the past two decades by leapfrogging the need for fixed line services, energy storage systems are eliminating the requirement to connect remote communities to a national power grid.

Coupled with renewable energy produced by photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, energy storage systems in remote communities can store that energy until it is required overnight or on a cloudy day. An excellent demonstration of the benefits of energy storage systems in developing nations is Ban Pha Dan, a village in a mountainous region of northern Thailand that has long lacked electricity.

Up until now, people in Ban Pha Dan had to rely on candles and oil lamps for light at night or resort to four-wheel-drives carting in diesel for generators to generate electricity. The lack of electricity also resulted in a lack of road lighting, which made it difficult to travel at night. In a project backed by the Thai Government, Ban Pha Dan is using solar cells to generate power and a high-performance hybrid battery system, including Redflow ZBM2 zinc-bromine flow batteries and lithium batteries, to store and deliver energy for a village that is separated from the national electricity distribution network.

Combination of technologies to find the ‘best economic case’
Under its national Power Development Plan, announced in January this year by the Thailand National Energy Policy Council, chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Thailand aims to prioritise the development of renewable energy sources for the period 2018-2037. The plan expects that non-fossil energy sources will account for 35% of the country’s total capacity by 2037.

TSUS Group General Manager Tossapon Jirattipong explains that Ban Pha Dan is a pilot project to enable Thai Government agencies to gain insight into lithium and zinc-bromine flow batteries for future deployments. “For this project, they needed to see the two things, first how to manage both flow batteries and lithium batteries,” he says.

“They expect that flow batteries should be the best for baseload management and, when demand gets higher, then lithium batteries can meet those peak demands. This configuration prolongs the life expectancy for both types of batteries.

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Fractal Energy Storage Consultants‘Leapfrogging’ The Grid: Hybrid Lithium-Flow in Action at A Remote Thai Village Microgrid

UK’s Capacity Market Becomes Target For Flow Battery Maker CellCube

on February 12, 2019

Long duration flow battery manufacturer CellCube will bring its large-scale vanadium redox flow systems to the UK, with the country’s Capacity Market firmly in its sights, according to Immersa, which the Canadian energy storage company has signed up to partner with.

UK-based solutions provider Immersa is to offer the vanadium redox flow systems to its customers in the British market. Robert Miles, Immersa’s chief executive, pointed towards a market trend towards longer duration batteries as the two companies announced the strategic partnership.

“We have been active in the UK storage sector for nearly three years and have already seen an enormous change in the application of the technology and the revenues that are derived from them.

“We have designed systems that used multiple generation technology and by installing in combination with these long duration batteries, we have shown that it is both possible and commercially feasible to generate, store and consume power that has been self-produced,” he said.

A significant driver for longer-duration batteries in the UK market has been transmission system operator National Grid’s de-rating factors, applied to battery storage projects that bid for contracts in the Capacity Market.

As administrator of the mechanism, National Grid applies a de-rating factor based on the project’s duration, ranging from 30 minutes to four hours; the maximum expected length of a system stress event.

Batteries capable of discharging for the full four hours stand to receive the highest level of support under the mechanism, a factor which has led many developers – including Anesco – to explore the possibility of adopting longer duration, but higher cost, battery technologies like vanadium flow machines.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsUK’s Capacity Market Becomes Target For Flow Battery Maker CellCube

Vanadium Batteries The Solution to Meet Growing Energy Storage Demand – Bushveld

on November 14, 2018

Creamer-MediaVanadium redox flow batteries (VRFBs) are a front-runner technology for meeting the growing demand in the energy storage sector, says Bushveld Energy CEO Mikhail Nikomarov.

During a webinar on energy storage this week, he noted that data by US-based multiservice professional firm Navigant shows that VRFB demand is expected to increase to over 18 000 MWh by 2027.

However, keeping market researcher BMI Research’s suggested 25% market share in mind, Nikomarov on Tuesday noted that this could increase to over 27 500 MWh by 2027.

If these forecasts hold true, 82 000 t of vanadium will be needed just for VRFBs, he said. Taking the BMI forecast into account, this could increase to over 96 000 t.

“This is a significant demand, and actually presents us with an upside,” he said.

Nikomarov said VRFBs offered clear advantages, both technically and financially, which “sets it apart in large-scale stationary applications”.

Despite vanadium’s limited share in current markets, the demand for vanadium – which offers future opportunities in consumer and mobile energy storage – remains underwritten by the steel market.

Existing demand from the steel and chemicals markets, Nikomarov said, implies a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for vanadium demand of 2.5% from 2017 to 2027.

The high dependence of VRFB on vanadium may increase this demand CAGR to 8.4%, he added.

Supporting this growth, is the industry’s optimism surrounding VRFBs.

Counting in the battery technology’s favour, he highlighted, was the evolution of energy storage cases that are “actually what a vanadium battery does”, which is longer duration and multiple purposes from one battery; as well a reduction of cost and consolidation.

Nikomarov also pointed out that the technology has Chinese political support, which is leading to greater VRFB deployment in Asia, compared with other regions.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsVanadium Batteries The Solution to Meet Growing Energy Storage Demand – Bushveld

China’s Biggest Flow Battery Project So Far is Underway With Hundreds More Megawatts to Come

on November 1, 2018

Energy-Storage-NewsVanadium redox flow battery maker VRB Energy has begun commissioning a 3MW / 12MWh energy storage system project in Hubei, China, which is expected to help serve as a demonstrator for much larger projects to come.

The project, Hubei Zaoyang Storage Integration Demonstration, is being used to demonstrate the use of storage systems in combination with solar PV. It is being installed in Zaoyang, Hubei Province and is planned to eventually reach 10MW / 40MWh. VRB Energy said yesterday that the demonstration project’s first 250kW / 1MWh battery module has been successfully commissioned.

It could then lead to the development and deployment of a 100MW / 500MWh vanadium energy storage system that would form “the cornerstone of a new smart energy grid” for the region, Energy-Storage.news reported in November 2017 as the demonstration project was awarded. The Hubei project is one of a number of pathfinders being commissioned in China.

The China National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has called for greater investment in flow batteries and set up programmes to develop vast projects in excess of 100MW capacity each. One such project already under way is a 200MW / 800MWh vanadium energy storage project in Dalian Province, by Chinese system manufacturer Rongke Power and UniEnergy Technologies (UET).

VRB Energy is one of a handful of makers of flow batteries, which can use a range of materials including vanadium and zinc bromine as electrolytes to create long duration solutions for storing energy that go beyond the 1-4 hours commonly associated with lithium-ion battery systems. The company was formerly known as Pu Neng in China but has now rebranded under the VRB Energy banner. Hubei Zaoyang Storage Integration Demonstration project customer Hubei Pingfan meanwhile is a mining and minerals company with an interest in vanadium.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsChina’s Biggest Flow Battery Project So Far is Underway With Hundreds More Megawatts to Come

Massachusetts Deploys Utility-Scale Energy Storage

on September 17, 2018

RTO-InsiderNational Grid has begun operating a vanadium redox-flow battery (VRB) with its 1-MW solar PV array in Shirley, Mass., to demonstrate utility operation of storage.

The company was the prime recipient of an $875,000 Massachusetts grant awarded to an application team that also includes Vionx Energy, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the Energy Initiatives Group. (See Massachusetts Awards $20M in Energy Storage Grants.)

Carlos Nouel, vice president of innovation and development at National Grid, told RTO Insider that “the Shirley project will serve as a test bed for integrating storage and solar through the use of flow batteries, and support the development of new frameworks for dispatching stored solar power.”

Massachusetts lags far behind California in deploying utility-scale energy storage, but it is trying to integrate the technology into its power supply.

California utilities must procure more than 1.3 GW of energy storage by 2020. As of August, the state’s three largest investor-owned utilities are in the process of actually procuring nearly 1.5 GW, with about 332 MW currently online, according to a report last month by the California Energy Commission.

In contrast, Massachusetts last year said the state’s utilities must procure a combined 200 MWh of energy storage by Jan. 1, 2020. ISO-NE in April reported more than 500 MW of storage capacity in its interconnection queue. (See Overheard at the Energy Storage Association Annual Conference.)

Home-Grown Storage

Vionx (rhymes with “bionics”) is supplying the energy storage system for the Shirley solar project, which lies about 30 miles west of the company’s lab and headquarters in Woburn, Mass.

The company uses vanadium rather than lithium for energy storage, seeing the alternative flow battery technology as the best fit for utility-scale applications, including microgrids or industrial, behind-the-meter systems.

The use of vanadium in a flow battery was first explored in the 1930s and only made workable in Australia in the mid-1980s. Today, many companies use the technology, from giant Sumitomo to tiny CellCube, a VRB manufacturer trying to vertically integrate with its own vanadium mine in Nevada.

A VRB stores chemical energy in the form of vanadium-based electrolyte and generates electricity by inducing a reduction-oxidation (redox) reaction: that is, a transformation of matter by electron transfer across an ion exchange membrane, within a battery stack. The reaction is achieved by either applying an electrical load (discharge) or an electrical supply (charge) to the battery stack as the electrolyte is flowing or being pumped across the membrane.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsMassachusetts Deploys Utility-Scale Energy Storage

Stanford Researchers Create Liquid Metal Flow Battery Optimized For Energy Storage

on July 25, 2018

CleantechnicaThe quest to develop better batteries continues in research facilities around the world. The goal is to develop batteries that store more energy and cost less money. But that’s not all. To be commercially successful, they must have a long service life and be environmentally safe. Scientists at Stanford University believe they are close to a battery breakthrough which could meet all of those objectives and give a big boost to the goal of powering the grid with renewable energy.

Flow batteries are considered prime candidates for grid scale energy storage. In a flow battery, two liquids — one having a positive electrical charge and another having a negative electrical charge — are separated by a membrane that allows electrons to pass between both fluids while keeping them physically separate. Flow batteries tend to be larger in size than comparable lithium ion batteries, which makes them problematic for use in vehicles, but space considerations are less important for batteries designed to store electricity for the grid.

Until now, flow batteries have had several limitations that kept them from commercial viability. They had low energy density, required temperatures as high as 400º F to operate, and/or used toxic substances that were dangerous to the environment and cost a lot of money. But a team at Stanford led by William Chueh, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering, says they have solved one third of the flow battery puzzle.

The team has developed a liquid metal solution made from sodium and potassium — both of which are non-toxic, abundant and inexpensive — that acts at the anode for a flow battery. The best part is, the liquid metal solution is effective at room temperature. Theoretically, this liquid metal has at least 10 times the available energy per gram as other candidates for the negatively charged fluid in a flow battery, according to Science Daily. In the lab, the new anode material is capable of storing twice as much energy as any other flow battery currently available. So far, the new battery has a useful life of several thousand hours.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” says Antonia Baclig, a Ph.D. candidate who is part of the research team, “but this is a new type of flow battery that could affordably enable much higher use of solar and wind power using Earth-abundant materials.” The research report was published on July 18 by the journal Joule.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsStanford Researchers Create Liquid Metal Flow Battery Optimized For Energy Storage

New Flow Battery Yields High Energy Storage Capabilities

on July 23, 2018

RandDUsing a liquid metal, researchers have improved the energy storage capabilities of flow batteries, while also reducing production costs.

Researchers from Stanford University have created a new type of flow battery with a liquid metal that more than doubles the maximum voltage of conventional flow batteries, which could lead to large-scale wind and solar electricity storage possibilities..

Flow batteries have long been considered as a strong candidate to store intermittent renewable energy, but ultimately have been limited by the kinds of liquids needed that either do not produce enough deliverable energy, require extremely high temperatures or use toxic or expensive chemicals.

Conventional flow batteries have aqueous solutions on both sides, but are constrained in voltage by water splitting.

The researchers were able to bypass the limitations by mixing sodium and potassium to form a liquid metal room temperature that could be used as the fluid for the negative side of the battery.  This new combination could have theoretically at least 10 times the available energy per gram as other candidates for the electron donor-side fluid of a flow battery.

“We still have a lot of work to do, but this is a new type of flow battery that could affordably enable much higher use of solar and wind power using Earth-abundant materials,” PhD student Antonio Baclig said in a statement.

The researchers developed a ceramic membrane comprised of potassium and aluminum oxide that allowed them to keep the negative and positive materials separated while allowing current to flow, while more than doubling the voltage of conventional flow batteries. The batteries also remained stable for thousands of hours of operation.

The higher voltage enables the battery to store more energy for its size, while also reducing the cost to produce the batteries.

“A new battery technology has so many different performance metrics to meet: cost, efficiency, size, lifetime, safety, etc.,” Baclig said. “We think this sort of technology has the possibility, with more work, to meet them all, which is why we are excited about it.”

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsNew Flow Battery Yields High Energy Storage Capabilities

Flow Batteries: Long Time Coming

on June 15, 2018

Energy-Storage-NewsFirst developed by NASA, flow batteries are a potential answer to storing solar – and wind – for eight to 10 hours, far beyond what is commonly achieved today with lithium-ion. In the first of a two-part special report, Andy Colthorpe learns what the flow battery industry faces in the fight for commercialisation.

Solar is easy to explain. Sunlight hits panels, electricity hits grid. Then come the inevitable questions about using power when the sun doesn’t hit the panels, about batteries and the well-rehearsed explanation comes that yes, while it would be great to use solar power 24/7, we’re just not there yet with the cost of technologies as they are, for the most part.

So the more complex explanation follows that lithium batteries are being deployed at large-scale to store energy for short periods of time, to deliver frequency regulation, or to remove specific hours of a peak demand period. A market need for long-duration storage remains elusive outside of specific circumstances such as remote grids where batteries and PV are replacing expensive diesel. Providers of flow batteries would beg to differ.

While acknowledging that lithium’s head start from a mass production perspective and other factors contribute to a higher capex overall for flow, flow energy storage providers are quick to point out the long lifetimes of their machines, the low cost of their raw materials, the comparative lack of fire hazard and associated balance-of-system costs and sheer ability to store huge amounts of energy, rather than power, mean flow could be the cost-effective long-duration choice of the renewables industry.

“People used to ask us what we needed the fifth hour for and now they ask if we can go to 10 hours,” Jorg Heinemann, chief commercial officer at Primus Power says.

Heinemann joined zinc bromine stationary energy storage maker Primus Power after eight years developing utility-scale PV with SunPower, believing long-duration storage to be the natural next step for renewable energy. Customers that have large amounts of solar PV are now approaching Primus with the intent to use solar-plus-storage as peaker replacements and to use behind-the-meter battery assets to offset transmission and distribution (T&D) investment costs.

“That’s beyond four hours [of storage], that means putting in a request for five, six or even eight hours, to take renewable power and add it to the storage and you’ve eliminated the need for a peaker. That last wave of use cases, T&D deferral, gas peaker replacement, heavy duty renewable extension,those are new, at least new to us. People have talked about them in theory, we’re now getting those active requests.

In California, where Primus is headquartered, lithium batteries have now been deployed to provide capacity in the wake of natural gas plant retirements and questions over security of supply following the Aliso Canyon gas leak, marking a milestone for batteries to be used on the grid for more than short-term balancing services. The state’s main investor-owned utilities now also have to include consideration of four-hour duration energy storage in their Resource Adequacy Plans. Other parts of the world are moving there faster, with various dispatchable solar projects announced in recent months.

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Fractal Energy Storage ConsultantsFlow Batteries: Long Time Coming