SDG&E and SEI unveil largest vanadium redox flow battery in the U.S.

By  Michelle Froese

SDG&E has unveiled a new vanadium redox flow (VRF) battery storage pilot project in coordination with Sumitomo Electric (SEI), which stemmed from a partnership between Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Development Organization (NEDO) and the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz).

During the four-year demonstration project, SDG&E will be researching if flow battery technology can economically enhance the delivery of reliable energy to customers, integrate growing amounts of renewable energy, and increase the flexibility in the way the company manages the power grid.

“SDG&E is continuously at the forefront of delivering clean energy solutions and championing innovative technologies to assess the long-term benefits for our customers,” said Caroline Winn, SDG&E’s Chief Operating Officer.

SDG&E has been a leader in bringing energy storage options into the region with the recent unveiling of the world’s largest lithium-ion battery storage facility in Escondido and a smaller facility in El Cajon.

The vanadium redox flow battery storage facility will provide 2 MW of energy, enough to power the energy equivalent of about 1,000 average homes for up to four hours. Like other battery storage systems, the battery will act like a sponge to soak up renewable energy harnessed from the sun and release it when resources are in high demand.

“This pilot will advance our understanding of how this flow battery technology can help us increase the reliable delivery of clean energy to our customers and align with state and local carbon emission reduction goals.”

Flow battery systems have an expected life-span of more than 20 years and could have less degradation over time from repeated charging cycles than other technologies. SDG&E will be testing voltage frequency, power outage support, and shifting energy demand.

“We are delighted to see our first flow battery system operating in the U.S. through the multiple-use operation of the battery system in SDG&E’s distribution network, we would like to prove its economic value and potential use on the electric grids,” said Junji Itoh, Managing Director of Sumitomo Electric.

“California continues to lead the nation when it comes to growing the economy and decreasing emissions,” said Sid Voorakkara, Deputy Director for External Affairs at the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. “GO-Biz is proud to partner with NEDO to bring this demonstration project to life and increase opportunities for economic growth powered by renewable energy.”

To date, SDG&E has approximately 100 MW of energy storage projects completed or contracted.

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