Andrew Burger | Tuesday February 17th, 2015
Leading battery storage technology developers and emerging market players, including Elon Musk’s SolarCity and Tesla, are investing billions of dollars to improve the performance and lower the costs of manufacturing lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. Along the way, they are promoting Li-ion battery storage as a cleaner, more efficient, sustainable and significantly less costly solution across a wide range of applications, from electric vehicles, homes and buildings on up to grid-scale energy storage and stabilization.
But Li-ion isn’t the only game in town when it comes to emerging advanced battery and energy storage technologies. And there are those who believe proponents are stretching their case too far in touting the advantages of Li-ion battery storage across such a broad range of applications.
Developers of flow batteries, for instance, say utilities and other large end-users would be ill-served by acquiring Li-ion battery storage, except for comparatively narrow and strictly defined cases. A developer of vanadium-flow battery storage systems, Imergy Power Systems, is taking its case to the market.
Flow batteries for utilities and large-scale end users
On Feb. 17, Fremont, California-based Imergy announced the introduction of its largest line of vanadium-flow batteries to date: the ESP 250 series. Capable of operating 20 years or more without the need to replace electrolytes and with only a couple of moving parts, Imergy’s ESP 250s are capable of delivering 250 kilowatts of electrical power for four or more hours.
That’s at least 1 million kilowatt-hours of electrical energy housed in two 40-foot shipping containers. It’s an amount that – when considered alongside other salient attributes – makes ESP 250s ideal for utilities, large commercial, industrial and government end-users, and developers of renewable energy projects, Imergy states in a news release. Its ESP 250s, Imergy says, are ideal for use across a wide range of large-scale applications.
ESP 250s, for instance, are more efficient and will soon prove more cost-effective than the conventional natural-gas and coal-fired “peaker” plants used by grid operators to meet peak electricity demand. They are also much better-suited than Li-ion batteries for applications such as utility and grid operator transmission and distribution investment deferral, renewables management, microgrid implementation, emergency back-up power system delivery, frequency regulation, and peak shaving, Imergy contends.