US energy storage firm Ameresco has completed the initial phase of a three-stage investigation into how flow batteries can support, and possibly replace, diesel generators in microgrid applications.
Phase one of the project—conducted in partnership with consultancy firm 2ndPath Energy—evaluated vanadium-redox flow (VRF) battery technology with the aim of offering feedback to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the wider industry.
Findings of phase one are published in a report titled ‘Demonstrating the Benefits of Long-Duration, Low-Cost Flow Battery Storage in a Renewable Microgrid’.
The report noted: “There is the potential for VRF battery technology to provide important benefits to a project as compared with lithium-ion technology while improving safety and reducing long term replacement requirements.”
The research was funded by the U.S. DoD’s Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP), which promotes the transfer of technologies from proof-of-concept to field or production use.
The project aims to assess, validate, and demonstrate the operational ability of vanadium-redox flow batteries and quantify if they could replace or significantly reduce the need for diesel generators in military microgrids.
“We are seeing growing interest from our Federal Government customers in how new energy storage technologies could complement lithium ion batteries to support their mission objectives,” said Nicole Bulgarino (pictured), EVP and general manager of Federal Solutions at Ameresco.
“These findings and the future work to follow allow us to better understand the technology and provide the best long term solutions to our customers, while advancing the state of the art of energy storage technology within industry.”
Phase-two of the research project is scheduled to begin later this year, and will involve Hardware in the Loop (HIL) testing in partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado, US
The next phase will physically test flow battery equipment in a laboratory environment to validate initial observations while better characterising the performance of a flow battery in a sequence of grid tied and islanded scenarios.
If successful, Ameresco seeks to complete a third and final phase in the way of a field demonstration.