Ameresco launches phase two of US DoD funded flow battery investigation

By Paul Crompton for Best Magazine

Cleantech integrator Ameresco has begun phase-two of a multi-stage investigation with the Department of Defense (DoD) into how vanadium flow battery technology can support microgrids. 

The investigation will look at the physical validation and evaluation of flow batteries at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Colorado.

The latest part of the program is being conducted in partnership with NREL, and supported by Invinity Energy Systems and S&C Electric Company. 

Funding for the investigation comes from Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP).

Phase-one of the investigation closed in April 2020, and primarily focused on evaluating the technical and economic feasibility of flow battery energy storage. 

Research collected from the project’s first phase demonstrated there was an opportunity for vanadium flow battery (VFB) storage technology to decrease diesel generation reliance and lower the cost of critical load support within a military microgrid. 

Given the results, phase-two will aim to validate the reliability and operational performance of VFB battery equipment through Hardware in the Loop (HIL) testing.

If the results of this work justify further investigation of flow battery technology, Ameresco hopes to continue this research with a future field deployment of a flow battery system at a DoD site.

This third phase of work would contribute to strengthening the depth of knowledge available on advanced energy technologies such as flow batteries.

Ameresco has been selected for another ESTCP project, which is expected to begin in 2022, that aims to demonstrate a zinc bromide flow battery that can be sited indoors.

Nicole Bulgarino, executive vice president of Federal Solutions at Ameresco, said: “Research like this is crucial to characterizing the performance of novel energy storage technologies like flow batteries, and to identifying under what circumstances they can support microgrid projects with our Federal customers.”

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