The California Energy Commission has selected four energy storage projects incorporating vanadium flow batteries (VFBs) from UK-based Invinity Energy Systems for funding as part of an initiative to stimulate availability of long-duration, non-lithium energy storage.
The project sites, comprising 7.8MWh of Invinity VFBs in total will see Invinity’s long-duration batteries paired with renewable energy to perform a range of services including peak shaving, demand charge reduction and provision of back-up power.
Invinity’s Vanadium Flow Batteries (VFBs) are a form of heavy duty, non-degrading, stationary energy storage which are deployed in high-utilisation, industrial applications such as grid balancing, renewable ‘firming’ and electric vehicle integration. They will complement California’s significant wind and solar generation by storing power for eight to ten hours, and do so for the 20- to 30-year life of those generating assets. Discharging over many hours per day, coupled with decades of useful life, yields better economics for these energy-shifting applications than comparable lithium-ion batteries.
California has sufficient renewable generation that during certain times available production outstrips demand, though not always when energy is most needed. The CEC sees long-duration storage as a key to stabilising the grid and delivering on the State’s ambitious decarbonisation goals.
State officials expect that California needs 1 gigawatt of new long-duration energy storage to advance its targets for electricity sector decarbonisation, so earlier this year launched a $20m solicitation to fund innovative long-duration non-lithium storage to accelerate fulfilment of that need. The CEC selected eight from 23 proposals for funding with four of the eight including VFBs supplied by Invinity.
This need is immediately evident in the negative prices which have swept across Britain and the EU throughout 2020 in part due to the Covid-19 crisis, as renewable generation levels continued to climb while demand for electricity declined.
Vanadium flow batteries are expected to play a crucial role in supporting the energy transition, with the market for this technology predicted to exceed $4.25 billion by 2028. Suitable fort heavy-duty, stationary, high-throughput applications, they are ideal for storing and dispatching energy on demand from industrial scale solar generation, delivering more flexible, more valuable low-carbon energy projects.
Concerns around lithium-ion safety and raw material sourcing practices also present opportunities for non-flammable, sustainably-sourced alternatives, of which vanadium flow batteries are a leading contender.