Grid-Scale Vanadium Flow Energy Storage System to be Installed at NELHA

The Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawai‘i Authority (NELHA), Hawaii Electric Light Company (HELCO), Ulupono Initiative and UniEnergy Technologies (UET) announced today their intent to install a 100kW/500kWh advanced vanadium energy storage system later this year at the Hawai‘i Ocean Science and Technology Park (HOST Park) administered by NELHA.

UET’s modular ReFlexTM energy storage system (ESS) is planned to be in operation at the NELHA Gateway Center early next year. The ESS utilizes advanced vanadium flow battery technology and was developed by DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Vanadium flow batteries have a longer life cycle than common lead acid or lithium-ion batteries. With regular maintenance, they can last more than 20 years and operate in very warm weather without much need for cooling to optimize performance.

“This effort builds upon the various initiatives by the County of Hawaii, Hawaii Electric Light Company, U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity, Sandia National Laboratories and NELHA to partner, share resources, and attract companies interested in testing and evaluating energy storage systems on the Island of Hawaii,” said Gregory Barbour, NELHA Executive Director. “NELHA is very grateful to Dr. Imre Gyuk, Director of the U.S. DOE energy storage program, for his very strong support and guidance to formulate this project.”

“Long duration flow batteries are particularly suitable for island systems to serve as a buffer between the load, variable renewable generation, and expensive fossil fuel generation, allowing for more effective asset utilization”, said Dr. Gyuk.

In 2017, more than 56 percent of the electricity generated on Hawaii Island comes from renewable resources like solar, wind, hydroelectric, and geothermal. Integrating increasing amounts of renewable energy to an island grid is challenging.

“Electricity from renewable resources is produced when the resource is available and not necessarily when it’s needed. To maintain grid stability and prevent an oversupply situation, it’s critical that we have the tools to control and balance the energy supply with customer demand,” said Jay Ignacio, Hawaii Electric Light president. “Energy storage is one of several solutions we’re considering. This partnership allows us to test a variety of applications for current and future renewable energy interconnections while maintaining high standards of safety and reliability.”

“The UET advanced vanadium ESS can provide many benefits such as improved grid stability through frequency, voltage and reactive power control as well as dispatch capability of distributed renewable energy,” said Gary Yang, UET CEO. “This battery technology is long-lasting, safe, recyclable, and cost effective.”

The ESS installation is funded in part by Ulupono Initiative, the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Electricity, and Hawaii Electric Light. NELHA is providing the land and will connect the ESS to its data acquisition system.

“Ulupono is pleased to participate in this project,” said Kyle Datta, Ulupono Initiative’s general partner. “Installing adequate grid-scale storage is an important step in furthering Hawaii’s energy resiliency and increasing the amount of highly variable solar energy that can be integrated into the Hawaii island grid.”

Sandia National Laboratories will provide technical consulting and conduct research to analyze how a flow battery performs in an island climate and on an island grid. “The more installations we have of various energy storage technologies, the more we learn and disseminate,” said Dan Borneo, Sandia National Laboratories’ ESS demonstration program lead. “This will help the energy storage industry proliferate.”

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