Everyone now realizes that battery storage is the key to decarbonizing the energy sector, and everybody wants a piece of the action. Lockheed Martin said in a press release this week it is partnering with TC Energy to develop large scale, long duration energy storage systems utilizing GridStar® Flow, Lockheed Martin’s innovative flow battery technology, which is capable of storing electricity for 6 to 12 hours and dispatching it as needed.
If you are not familiar with TC Energy, you may recognize it by its former name, TransCanada Corporation. Yes, it is one of the world’s largest pipeline operators, with more than 57,000 miles of natural gas pipelines and another 3,000 miles of pipelines for oil and other liquids. It also generates about 6,600 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 6 million homes, according to its website.
And what of Lockheed Martin? Doesn’t it manufacture military hardware like fighter planes and such? Yes it does. But as CleanTechnica’s Jacek Fior reported last February, the company is in the national security business and energy security is rapidly becoming a major component of national security. And what is it that makes Lockheed Martin’s technology different from other flow batteries? The company is being very close-mouthed about that other than providing the information available on its website.
“LM Energy’s GridStar Flow is an innovative redox flow battery designed to be a durable, flexible and safe long-duration energy storage solution. The technology behind GridStar Flow is the coordination chemistry flow battery. [Our] GridStar Flow uses engineered electrolytes made from earth-abundant materials with characteristics that enable lower cost balance-of-plant components, higher round-trip efficiency, and longer useful life than current flow battery solutions.”
Got all that? Apparently the difference between the Lockheed Martin system and conventional flow batteries is an absence of ingredients that are toxic and/or expensive while maintaining sufficient energy storage capability to be commercially viable. Apparently TC Energy is convinced, although the press release studiously avoids specifying how large a flow battery will be tested and where it will be installed.
“GridStar® Flow will enable TC Energy to address the growing requirements for large-scale, long-duration batteries to provide flexibility and resiliency as electric grids move away from fossil fuel generation and incorporate increasing levels of intermittent renewable energy,” the press release says. “Unlike conventional batteries, GridStar® Flow allows customers to optimally size power (megawatts) and energy (megawatt hours) independently and maintains its energy capacity without degradation throughout project life.”
The accompanying video does not reveal any more technical details but it does help understand how Lockheed Martin sees its flow battery fitting in to the energy generation and distribution picture.
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