Sunday, July 13, 2008

Kevin Cullen on the VRB Battery


Kevin Cullen
Comments on the
VRB Energy Storage System

Kevin Cullen has been in touch again with further clarification and information on the VRB Flow Battery installation in Ireland.


Good post. I did want to point out one key point regarding VRB's Energy Storage System (ESS): its now well beyond the prototype stage.

Utilities are notoriously conservative buyers and typically require a lot of field tests -- and corresponding data -- before implementing new solutions in their grids.

Indeed, my take is that VRB Power is today at the cusp of mass commercialisation.

As to some of the more salient earlier sales, in 2002, a 200kW x 4hr VRB-ESS was installed at King Island, Tasmania which has been used to balance wind and diesel generation on King Island and to reduce diesel usage and emissions.

In 2004, an installation for PacifiCorp in Castle Valley, Utah was the first large-scale commercial VRB-ESS in North America. It's now been operating continuously for over 4 years. The 350kVa X 8 hour (2 MWh) unit, which is connected to a 331km 25kV rural feeder, is being used as a load levelling (peak shaving) device to supply peak power capacity to a remote location in southeast Utah.

In 2006, Sumitomo installed a 4MW x 1.5hr VRB-ESS at the 32 MW Tomamae wind farm on Hokkaido in northern Japan to smooth output from the wind farm. Over the past three years, the system has cycled over 100,000 times and proves the viability of VRB's technology as the only large scale technology capable of rapid cycling and smoothing of the wind farm output.

VRB Power is also targeting the telcom market segment.

They recently sold a 20kw x 9hr VRB-ESS to a Sprint. The system provides the requisite 3 hours of backup US telcoms traditionally deploy. The additional 6hrs of storage capacity will provide the telcom operator the ability to arbitrage their purchase of electricity as they will charge the battery at night, when rates are lowest, to use the electricity during the high-rate day period.

Equally important are the very significant savings that have been made in the manufacturing area. An injection-moulded frame was developed which have yielded a 50% reduction in the overall cost of a 5kW cell stack. In so doing, they've eliminated all previous sub-assembly steps and enabled a final operational process that significantly reduces labour and floor space requirements.

I would invite anyone interested in any of this to read the company's 2007 Annual report available at Lot's of excellent detail -- before even getting to the numbers!

Best regards,
Kevin Cullen

Thank you again Kevin for your continued input.


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