S Navy tests new microgrid applications for civilian and defence markets using vanadium-flow battery technology

A Smart Microgrid project hosted by the US Navy and sponsored by the California Energy Commission (CEC) will use vanadium-flow battery technology developed by Imergy Power Systems, a major energy storage systems developer. The project, a microgrid/energy storage demonstration combined with a solar PV installation, will take place at US Navy’s Mobile Utilities Support Equipment (MUSE) Facility in Port Hueneme, California.

The project is part of a wider attempt by the Navy and civilian authorities to develop applications and use-case scenarios to optimize power consumption at military bases, college campuses, industrial parks and other situations. The US Navy and military have emerged as world leaders in development of microgrids and other advanced energy technologies. Microgrids at military bases could help the military lower energy costs, expand their use of renewable energy, and reduce their dependence on diesel and grid connectivity for mission critical assignments.

According to Imergy, three ESP30 series vanadium-based flow batteries will be incorporated into the project, which will also feature a 50 kW PV solar panel system and GELI’s Energy Operating System (EOS) to automate the multiple applications. The ESP30 series has a capacity of up to 50 kilowatts (kW) and can store up to 200 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity.

Microgrids are not necessarily only suyitable for small-scale projects. Earlier this year, GE announced a contract win to provide the government of Equatorial Guinea with a 5MW solar microgrid. The project, which will be built jointly with MAECI Solar and Princeton Power Systems, represents the largest self-sufficient solar power system in Africa. This initiative comes under the aegis of Equatorial Guinea’s “National Economic Development Plan Horizon 2020,” which aims to put the country on the “emerging market map” by 2020.

Microgrid projects have been developed across rural areas South America, Africa, Australia and beyond. Because of a sutained effort to develop its small-scale power grid infrastructure, Alaska has emerged as a global leader in microgrid development, particularly in wind-diesel generation.

The market for energy storage is growing rapidly. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has mandated that the state’s three largest investor-owned utilities add a minimum of 1.3 gigwatts (GW) of energy storage of energy storage infrastructure by the end of the decade. Worldwide revenue from deployments of microgrids is expected to grow to $25.28 billion by 2022, at a CAGR of 17.36% during 2014 to 2022.