Vanadium flow battery installed at Native American-run fire station in Southern California

By Kelly Pickerel for Solar Power World

GRID Alternatives recently installed a vanadium flow battery (VFB) supplied by Invinity Energy Systems at a fire station run by the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians in Southern California. The 500-kWh battery is part of a $1.7 million project including 500 kW of on-site solar that will ensure uninterrupted power and significantly improve energy resiliency for the Soboba Fire Department.

Invinity Energy Systems VRB

The project is funded in part by $624,000 committed by the California Energy Commission (CEC) to demonstrate the essential role that long-duration storage can play in delivering clean power to critical infrastructure.

The fire station is a vital part of the Soboba community. Tribal residents live in a district identified by the California Public Utilities Commission as a “Tier 3 – Extreme” threat area and have experienced multiple outages linked to wildfires over the last two years. During wildfires, the Soboba fire station serves as the incident command center and emergency shelter as well as the point of distribution for food, equipment and supplies — making uninterrupted power vital for community resiliency.

The VRB and solar will provide a minimum of 10 hours of continuous backup power to the site.

The project is one of four energy storage projects utilizing Invinity flow batteries to be selected for funding by the CEC as part of a $20 million initiative to stimulate the deployment of long-duration, non-lithium energy storage.

Tribal job trainees will be incorporated as much as possible into the project to increase job readiness within the community. GRID Alternatives Inland Empire, an affiliate of GRID, will be working to strengthen community-wide emergency plans and help make Soboba Tribal members fully aware of the facility and use during outages and emergencies.

“We are excited to use innovative technologies to advance climate resiliency in tribal communities in California,” said Lisa Castilone, Community Development & Tribal Program Manager of GRID Inland Empire, “This project will provide essential power to the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indian Fire Station for the reservation, and also the surrounding communities. This project will not only allow emergency services to continue during outages but will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate disasters that cause the outages in the first place.”

Invinity’s Vanadium Flow Batteries are a form of heavy-duty, non-degrading, stationary energy storage which are deployed in high-utilization, industrial applications such as grid balancing, renewable ‘firming’ and electric vehicle integration. VFBs will complement California’s significant wind and solar generation by storing power for eight to ten hours, over the 20- to 30-year life of those generating assets.

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