SDG&E Assesses Vanadium Redox Flow Battery In Zero-Emissions Microgrid Pilot

US utility San Diego & Gas Electric (SDG&E), in partnership with Sumitomo Electric, has announced the success of a pilot which included the use of a vanadium redox flow battery in creating a zero-emissions microgrid.

The battery was installed at a substation in Bonita, California, in 2017 following a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2015 by Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation and the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.

The pilot was launched in 2018 and was the first of its kind on the California energy market.

The 2MW/8MWh vanadium redox flow battery provided long-duration energy storage and acted as a microgrid to ensure grid reliability and climate resilience.

Some of the applications of the project included providing grid resilience as growing wildfire-related blackouts and Public Safety Shutoffs threatened the state’s grid network.

The storage also provides an opportunity for California to integrate more renewables capacity on the grid.

The energy storage system powered 66 residential and commercial customers for close to five hours. The battery was charged during times when solar energy generation was high for discharging onto the grid during times when generation was low.

Caroline Winn, the CEO of SDG&E said: “Climate conditions increasingly threaten the continuity of essential services that our customers expect and deserve from us, which is one of the many reasons we are so focused on innovation and technology.

“There is a critical need to develop breakthrough solutions like zero-emissions microgrids to not only minimise disruptions, but to also support the transition to a cleaner, safer and more reliable energy grid of the future.”

Peter Klauer, senior advisor for smart grid technology at CAISO added: “California already has the highest concentration of lithium-ion battery storage in the world, which has proven to be a game-changer at critical times of stress on the grid.

“It’s inspiring now to see other storage technologies emerge, creating more opportunities to balance and manage power grids. We are excited to understand the specific capabilities of VRF technology and will continue to evolve our market design to further support grid integration of energy storage technologies.”

“While climate change presents many challenges, it also spurs innovations that can lead to new industries and good, family-supporting jobs,” reiterated GO-Biz Director Dee Dee Myers.