Image from Washington Clean Technology Alliance
Image from Washington Clean Technology Alliance

 

Washington State University will soon become a collaborating partner in a new $14.3M Clean Energy Fund grant for one of three Washington energy storage projects.

The project is set to take place on WSU’s main campus in the Pullman, WA area. Over three years, Avista Utilities will test how well large batteries store energy from wind, solar and other renewable fuel sources, and how well they are able to support WSU’s smart campus operations. This project compliments the existing Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project at WSU, started in 2009 with Avista Utilities, the largest regional project of its kind in the US.

A vanadium redox battery storage system made by Uni Energy Technologies (UET) in Mokliteo, WA will be installed in a Pullman substation, capable of storing enough electricity for 100 to 120 homes to use over 3 hours. WSU will be partnering with the US Dept. of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Lab to develop a battery control system on the Pullman project.

The vanadium redox battery is substantially different from traditional batteries and will soon be widely marketed by UET. It passes a warm solution through a stack of electrodes, resulting in chemical reactions that store electrical potential as chemical energy. It cannot catch fire or fail because of chemical reactions, and is thus safer and more stable than similar high capacity batteries. When completely charged, it will hold 98% of its capacity for a year when the pumps are off. Energy produced by wind and solar sources must be used immediately and are dependent on weather conditions. This battery system does not have those drawbacks.

This research marks advances in clean technologies and energies in numerous respects. It will boost the state of Washington’s national standing in the renewable energy and energy storage markets by reducing energy costs and carbon emissions while increasing energy independence. Overall, this project demonstrates the benefits of building more resilient electric grids that can store power, which will allow communities to adapt energy needs during an increasing number of severe weather events in the US that destroy traditional utility transmission systems.

The new batteries should arrive in Pullman before the end of this year, with full scale testing beginning about 18 months after preliminary tests and design work.

You can read more about this project at: http://wacleantech.org/2014/07/state-grants-of-14-3-million-position-washington-as-energy-storage-leader/.