Canadian Solar Plus Storage Project To Use VRFB Technology

Chappice Lake Solar + Storage, a Canadian solar-plus-storage project, plans to use vanadium redox flow battery (“VRFB”) technology, which will be supplied by Invinity Energy Systems. The project plans to combine an 8.4MWh battery storage system with a 21MW solar array.

Invinity, the Anglo-American flow battery company, will be working with Elemental Energy, the operator, owner and developer of the project, which is situated in the Alberta province. This province produces a significant portion of all the natural gas in Canada and hosts crude oil production from various sites, including its northern tar sands. It also relies on the country’s biggest coal fleet for electricity.

Alberta’s key pollution and climate pledges include phasing out at least 50% of emissions from its coal fleet by 2030.

The Chappice project is one of the many projects that were awarded funding in 2021 through the Emissions Reduction Alberta (“ERA”) scheme by the provincial government. The project received C$10 million, which is about one-quarter of its total expected cost of about CA$40 million ($31.46 million).

Vanadium flow batteries have been lauded as a long-life, long-duration energy infrastructure asset. A vanadium flow battery’s energy capacity can be scaled up by simply increasing the size of their electrolyte tanks. Flow battery systems are also expected to last decades in service, without their battery capacity fading or degradation occurring.

The vanadium flow battery to be supplied will be directly DC-coupled with the solar array, which will improve the Chappice project’s operational flexibility, costs and efficiency. The battery will send out and store the low-cost, low-carbon energy it gets from the solar PV modules.

Invinity stated that delivering power on demand would reduce constraints to deploying more renewable energy on the grid, which would in turn eliminate power flow bottlenecks. The Chappice project is set to go into service later in the year.

Cold Lake First Nations, a local indigenous group that holds an equity interest in this project, has also partnered with Elemental Energy. This move will allow the community to benefit from the opportunities for employment the clean-energy industry can create in the area as well as the new electricity capacity addition.

In a statement, Invinity Energy Systems chief commercial officer Matt Harper explained that Alberta had a history of leadership in energy, noting that this project would create new jobs and expand that leadership in new directions, which was an indication of how the province could innovate and build.

This selection of vanadium flow batteries for use in this project shows how much attention this particular battery chemistry is getting for utility-scale operations, and that bodes well for entities such as StorEn Technologies Inc., which have taken years fine-tuning these energy storage batteries.