Energy storage is making headlines in the media and waves in the U.S. power industry. For example, Tesla's planned electric-vehicle (EV) gigafactory in Nevada and California investor-owned utilities' drive to acquire 1.325-gigawatt (GW) of energy storage capacity by the end of the decade are prominent developments that have propelled media and public interest in advanced energy storage technologies.
Now primed for commercial deployment, U.S. investment groups and banks are also showing heightened interest in, and directing more in the way of capital towards, advanced energy storage projects and companies. Advanced energy storage systems aren't only cropping up in the U.S., and lithium-ion batteries aren't the only type of energy storage technology being deployed, however. Alternatives, including flow batteries, are now used in some far-flung and surprising places.
On January 14, Fremont, California-based Imergy announced that Metronik Energija has installed two of its ESP4 series vanadium-flow batteries at Trojane, a popular restaurant in the Slovenian Alps famous, in particular, for its donuts. Donuts aren't Trojane's only claim to fame, however.
Donuts, Flow Batteries and “Green” Microgrids
A leading example of businesses working to rely wholly on on-site and local “green” energy resources, Imergy's two ESP4 vanadium-flow batteries are to be integrated with Trojane's existing 49-kW solar PV system, a 30-kW combined heat and power (CHP) system and an electric-vehicle (EV) charging station. Combined the two ESP4s are capable of delivering from 24-32 kilowatt-hours of electrical energy.
Installation and integration of Imergy's vanadium-flow battery storage system at Trojane is being sponsored by Slovenian utility Elektro Ljubljana with support from Business Suport Center Kranj. The objective is “to demonstrate how Imergy's flow batteries manage multiple applications, such as renewable energy system integration, peak demand reduction, backup power and EV charging,” Imergy explains in a press release.
Imergy's ESP4 vanadium-flow battery is generally capable of delivering between 12-16 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electrical energy. Used for multiple purposes as at Trojane, advanced energy storage systems “deliver a higher return on investment (ROI) than systems that can only be used for a single application,” Imergy highlights.
Trojane's experiment in “green energy” is part of the European AlpStore program. Seven countries are partners in the program, which aims to develop a long-term energy strategy for Europe's Alpine regions. Elektro Llubljana will evaluate Trojane's solar PV-CHP-EV and flow-battery storage system over a two years with the goal of establishing “how energy storage systems incorporating vanadium-based flow batteries manage the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources.”
Imergy's Growing Energy Storage Market Presence
Hundreds of Imergy's vanadium-flow battery storage systems have been deployed in developing countries including India, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. Imergy recently began deliveries to project developers in the U.S. — one as part of a smart microgrid test conducted at a U.S. Navy facility in California and another four for residential, commercial and use by a technical college in Hawaii that's looking to go 100 percent renewable energy.
Imergy says its vanadium-flow batteries are ideally suited for use on sites where grid power is unavailable, prohibitively expensive or notoriously unreliable — and where solar PV systems or other renewable energy systems are producing electricity.
In addition to super-fast response, ramp-up and ramp-down rates, its vanadium-flow batteries “can be charged and recharged an infinite number of times with little or no degradation in performance depending on project attributes and characteristics, ” Imergy says.
Moreover, its flow-battery technology is modular and scalable enough to be used “behind the meter” by residential and commercial customers as well as by utilities as a substitute for “peaker” plants and all the transmission and distribution infrastructure associated with them.