Oregon utility picks ESS Inc’s flow battery energy storage for multiple application testing

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PGE’s test and demonstration project marks the first deployment of ESS Inc’s Energy Center project. Image: ESS Inc.

ESS Inc’s long-duration iron electrolyte flow battery energy storage solution will be deployed in a demonstration and test project in Oregon by utility company Portland General Electric. 

ESS Inc holds various patents around the technology and is therefore the world’s only manufacturer of a flow battery with the non-toxic electrolyte chemistry — essentially iron and saltwater — integrated into energy storage systems which offer up to 12 hours of storage and discharge duration. 

Portland General Electric (PGE) will test the flow battery system’s ability to provide a number of different applications, with use cases that include frequency response, contingency reserve, voltage and VAR support, demand response and resource optimisation. 

With the flow battery company headquartered in Oregon, the 3MWh system will be sited on land adjacent to ESS Inc’s factory HQ in Wilsonville, a small city in the western US state. 

It is expected to come online around the middle of this year. Energy-Storage.news asked ESS Inc what the output and therefore duration of the system will be and was waiting for a response at the time of publication. 

PGE’s senior manager of grid edge solutions said that working with ESS Inc on the project would provide the utility with “important learnings on our path to meeting our greenhouse gas emission reduction targets”.

“Building a reliable, affordable clean energy future requires us working together with industry innovators,” PGE’s Darren Murtagh said. 

It marks the first deployment for ESS Inc’s Energy Center product, a configurable, containerised utility-scale product aimed at front-of-meter use cases as well as larger commercial and industrial (C&I) applications. 

It was launched in February of last year, based on the company’s second generation of flow battery modules and as a larger counterpart to the ESS Inc Energy Warehouse 75kW / 500kWh solution. 

Shortly before the winter break at the end of 2021, it was announced that six Energy Warehouse units totalling 3MWh would be used in a zero-emissions microgrid project in California

California investor-owned utility (IOU) San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) will be deploying the flow battery equipment in combination with solar to support numerous critical community facilities in the town of Cameron Corners. 

As it has done with solar PV and lithium-ion battery storage, California is becoming an early leader in adoption of long-duration energy storage technologies. Amid various other developments, the most recent is that the state’s budget for 2022-2023 includes US$380 million funding for long-duration projects.

ESS Inc claims US$8 billion potential opportunities pipeline

ESS Inc got a listing on the NYSE last October after finalising a business combination with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), called ACON S2 Acquisition Corp. 

The company acknowledged ahead of listing that it needs to build up contracts and deployments and ramp up its manufacturing before it will be making a profit, but disclosed in November that it views its pipeline of opportunities in the global market by 2027 as being worth US$8 billion.

It has signed a framework agreement with Softbank’s SB Energy to deploy 2GWh of flow batteries by 2026, as well as a smaller deal with Enel Green Power to supply 8.5MWh of equipment to a solar farm in Spain. ESS Inc’s flow batteries can be sold with long-term warranties thanks to insurance coverage from Munich Re.

ESS Inc CEO Eric Dresselhuys participated in Energy-Storage.news’ recent Year in review 2021 interview blog series, discussing business models, technology trends, challenges and opportunities ahead and other aspects of energy storage industry dynamics and his company’s progress within them.

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