US energy supplier trials grid-scale redox flow batteries

March 17, 2017 // By Nick Flaherty
A major energy supplier in California is testing out a vanadium redox flow (VRF) battery in a four year trial.

SDG&E launched the VRF battery storage pilot project using technology from Sumitomo Electric (SEI, pictured above) to look at whether flow battery technology can economically enhance the delivery of reliable energy, integrate growing amounts of renewable energy and increase the flexibility in the way the company manages the power grid.

"SDG&E is continuously at the forefront of delivering clean energy solutions and championing innovative technologies to assess the long-term benefits for our customers," said Caroline Winn, SDG&E's chief operating officer. "This pilot will advance our understanding of how this flow battery technology can help us increase the reliable delivery of clean energy to our customers and align with state and local carbon emission reduction goals."

The vanadium redox flow battery storage facility will provide 2 megawatts (MW) of energy, enough to power the energy equivalent of about 1,000 homes for up to four hours. Flow battery systems have an expected life-span of more than 20 years, and could have less degradation over time from repeated charging cycles than other technologies. SDG&E will be testing voltage frequency, power outage support and shifting energy demand.

"We are delighted to see our first flow battery system operating in the U.S.  through the multiple-use operation of the battery system in SDG&E's distribution network, we would like to prove its economic value and potential use on the electric grids," said Junji Itoh, managing director of Sumitomo Electric.  

In February SDG&E opened the world's largest lithium ion battery storage facility in Escondido, California and a smaller facility in El Cajon, and has nearly 100 MW of energy storage projects completed or contracted.

www.sdge.com

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