California Funds 60 MWh Tribal Long-Duration Storage Project With Nation’s Largest Vanadium Redox Flow Battery

he California Energy Commission has issued a $31 million grant to build a 60 MWh long-duration energy storage system that is expected to provide backup power to the Viejas Tribe of Kumeyaay Indians and bolster the reliability of the energy system statewide.
The project will include a 10 MWh vanadium redox flow battery from Invinity Energy Systems, expected to be the largest in the country once set up, and a zinc hybrid cathode battery system developed by Eos Energy Enterprises.
“This is the largest grant… that’s ever been given by the energy commission to a tribe in California. It’s the largest long-duration storage grant that’s ever been given and I believe that this is part of the seed planting we need to do to build a clean energy future,” CEC Chair David Hochschild said at an event announcing the project last week.
More than 4 GW of battery storage has been installed in the California Independent System Operator footprint, and the state projects that it would need another 48 GW of battery storage and 4 GW of long-duration storage by 2045. The project is the first to be awarded under the state’s $140 million long-duration energy storage program.
The 60 MWh system is “one of the first of its kind in the country,” according to the CEC, and will be developed by Indian Energy, a Native American-owned microgrid developer. In addition to providing the Viejas tribe with renewable backup power during outages, it will allow the tribe to reduce electricity use from the grid when the state needs more resources.
The project will have around 30,000 solar panels, with a 15 MW output and the 60 MWh of long-duration storage. This includes the 10 MWh vanadium redox flow battery from Invinity, a technology the company says offers many advantages to lithium-ion batteries, including safety and durability. The flow battery will be paired with a 35 MWh, 10-hour energy storage system from Eos.
The remaining 15 MWh of storage will also be non lithium-ion technologies and will be provided by the tribe at a later date, CEC spokesperson Lindsay Buckley said in an email. The initial 45 MWh are expected to come online by the summer of 2023, with the entire project online by summer of 2024.
The project “solves many, many problems at once,” Hochschild said at the event last week: “energy independence and clean energy for the tribe, grid resilience for our state, jobs opportunities, investment in the innovation economy and added together that’s really monumental.”
Geneva Thompson, assistant secretary for tribal affairs at the California Natural Resources Agency, called the project a “powerful example of what tribal partnerships [look] like in working toward energy sovereignty, addressing historical wrongs, and transitioning the state to 100% clean energy.”
California needs at least 1 GW of long-duration storage to support reliability by 2026 to 2028 and to position long-duration storage technologies to be commercially available and scalable to meet 2030 and 2045 clean energy goals, Jin Noh, policy director with the California Energy Storage Alliance, said in an email.
“This project will help advance those goals and we hope there is more to come with the remaining funds as well as potentially with additional funds next year if approved by the Legislature,” he said.
CESA expects that non-lithium energy storage technologies will be deployed at a growing scale in the state, according to Noh.
“The Inflation Reduction Act is game-changing in terms of accelerating all types of energy storage and some non-lithium technologies are particularly well-positioned to take advantage of the domestic content requirements and manufacturing production tax credit,” he said.