Image courtesy of Redflow

Redflow Will Supply 20 MWh Flow Battery Storage System In California

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Unbeknownst to many, there are other ways of storing electricity than lithium-ion batteries. Redflow has been designing and building zinc bromine flow batteries for almost a decade and has just landed one of its largest orders ever. Building on the success of a 2 MWh flow battery system it installed in California over a year ago, the company has now been selected to supply a 20 MWh system that will help power the Rolling Hills Casino, part of a 2000-acre parcel in Corning, California, that is reserved for the Paskenta branch of an Indigenous group known as the Nomlaki.

The 20 MWh system will be one of the largest zinc-based battery projects in the world, and will represent the largest single sale and deployment of Redflow batteries globally to date. The Australian company announced on June 1, 2023 that its safe, scalable, and sustainable flow batteries have been funded and approved by the California Energy Commission for the large scale solar and storage project at the Paskenta Rancheria.

With this new 20 MWh project, Redflow joins a small number of commercially proven non-lithium storage providers that the CEC is funding as it looks to create a robust portfolio of long duration energy storage projects. The Redflow ZBM3 batteries can supply power for up to 12 hours.

The projects represent a key step to help California meet its estimated need for up to 55 GWh of long duration energy storage by 2045 in order to support grid reliability and the state’s clean energy transition targets.

The project will be funded by a $140 million long duration energy storage grant program from CEC that focuses on enabling commercially proven non-lithium energy storage technologies to scale. This follows the 2 MWh system in California that Redflow installed for Anaergia in 2022 that has been successfully operating for more than a year.

“This 20 MWh project is one of several large-scale opportunities in our pipeline, and represents the next phase of our growth strategy, validating our focus on large-scale systems in the U.S. and Australia,” said Redflow CEO Tim Harris. “The market for long duration energy storage is accelerating.”

“CEC approval firmly establishes our presence in California, which is leading the development and support of non-lithium technologies to achieve its net zero goals. This project is a great example of U.S.-Australian collaboration in renewable energy and supports the aims of the recent Climate, Critical Minerals and Clean Energy Transformation Compact, which cites clean energy as the third pillar of the alliance.”

“For this project, Redflow’s battery system is designed to charge from solar and discharge throughout the remainder of the day, reducing grid demand and boosting the energy security of the Paskenta Rancheria,” added Harris. “We’re proud to be working with our partners in California to deliver our proven zinc-bromine flow battery technology and meet California’s need for longer duration, scalable, zero fire risk energy storage solutions.”

Long duration energy storage projects funded by the CEC have often been deployed to benefit underserved communities, while helping the state address grid stability and resiliency in extreme weather conditions.

This solar and storage microgrid will enable the Paskenta Tribe to power operations of the Paskenta Rancheria using a sustainable, resilient renewable energy solution. The project is part of the Tribe’s efforts to achieve greater energy sovereignty through control over its own energy resources, reduce fossil fuel consumption, and assert responsible land stewardship. Faraday Microgrids, a California developer and contractor that has deployed a number of CEC grant-funded microgrid projects, is the grant recipient and project lead.

Redflow will supply 2,000 ZBM3 batteries composed of 200 kWh modular energy pods for delivery in 2023 and 2024. Redflow’s zinc-bromine flow technology is capable of providing up to 12 hours of flexible energy capacity for both commercial and utility-scale energy storage applications. The project will further build on Redflow’s portfolio of 250 active deployments and over 3 GWh of energy delivered.

“The Faraday team is delighted to be working with Redflow on this important project. The resiliency, operational performance, and safety of Redflow’s zinc-bromine flow battery technology will support the sustainability, reliability, and energy self-sufficiency goals of both the State of California and the Paskenta Rancheria,” said David Bliss, CEO of Faraday Microgrids. “Redflow’s strength of team, innovative approach to flow technology, and a strong track record of successful deployments is a welcome addition to our microgrid portfolio.”

“This project is an important step in California’s clean energy transition,” said Jonah Steinbuck, Director of the Energy Research and Development Division at the California Energy Commission. “It reflects the CEC’s goal to commercialize proven long duration energy storage solutions and support the energy sovereignty of tribal nations such as the Paskenta. With emerging energy storage technologies such as those developed and deployed by Redflow and Faraday, we will be better positioned to expand and diversify California’s energy storage portfolio, reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and enhance the reliability and resilience of our grid.”

What Is A Flow Battery?

A flow battery is basically two tanks of liquid separated by a membrane that allows electrons to move back and forth between them. The liquid in one tank is negatively charged; the liquid in the other is positively charged. In theory, in order to increase the energy storage capacity of a flow battery, all that is needed is to increase the size of the tanks and add more liquid.

Lithium-ion batteries used for energy storage require robust cooling systems in order to prevent what are known as “thermal runaway events.” Most people just call them fires. They also struggle to supply electricity for more than 4 hours at a time. And of course they rely on lithium, which is in short supply today and often comes with environmental risks.

Flow batteries can supply power for 12 hours or more, have no risk of fire, need no cooling systems, and are fully recyclable. Maintenance typically consists of replacing the membrane and liquids every ten years or so. They do take up more space and weigh more than equivalent lithium-ion energy storage systems, however.

Redflow is not the only horse in the flow battery race. Last September, we wrote about ESS, a US company that has deployed a 200 MW/2GWh iron flow battery storage system in California.

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The Specifics

CleanTechnica readers are unusually well informed and are not satisfied with run of the mill press releases with namby-pamby quotes from various and sundry grand poohbahs. Knowing that, we are supplementing this report with two graphics created by Redflow that explain its technology in greater depth. There is also a helpful video below for your amusement and edification. There is no extra charge to our readers for this service!

Redflow
Image courtesy of Redflow

 

Redflow
Image courtesy of Redflow

 


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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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