California Energy Commission opts to fund vanadium flow batteries


The California Energy Commission (CEC) has selected to fund four energy storage projects incorporating vanadium flow batteries from UK-based Invinity Energy Systems plc. This forms part of an initiative to stimulate the availability of long-duration, non-lithium energy storage.

The CEC, California’s primary energy policy and planning agency, sees long-duration storage as a key to stabilising the grid and delivering on the State’s ambitious decarbonisation goals.

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State officials estimate that California needs 1GW of new long-duration energy storage to advance its targets for electricity sector decarbonisation. As a result, earlier this year the CEC launched a $20 million solicitation to fund innovative long-duration non-lithium storage to accelerate fulfilment of that need.

The CEC received 23 proposals and selected eight for funding, with an unprecedented four of the winning eight including vanadium flow batteries (VFBs) supplied by Invinity.

The project sites, comprising 7.8MWh of Invinity VFBs in total, are situated across California and will see Invinity’s long-duration batteries paired with renewable energy to perform a range of services including peak shaving, demand charge reduction and provision of back-up power.

Invinity’s VVFBs are a form of heavy duty, non-degrading, stationary energy storage which are deployed in high-utilisation, industrial applications such as grid balancing, renewable ‘firming’ and electric vehicle integration. They will complement California’s significant wind and solar generation by storing power for eight to ten hours, and do so for the 20- to 30-year life of those generating assets. Discharging over many hours per day, coupled with decades of useful life, yields better economics for these energy-shifting applications than comparable lithium-ion batteries.

Matt Harper, chief commercial officer at Invinity, said: “…It’s fantastic to see them opening up the market for long-duration storage and understanding the vital role that it will play in the energy transition.

“California has pioneered renewable technology for decades but their electric grid is currently plagued by problems, with wildfires, regular blackouts and tremendous instability in electricity supply. Our vanadium flow batteries can help to address these issues by dispatching clean, low-cost renewable energy on demand, delivering the stability needed to achieve California’s ambitious decarbonisation targets.”

Vanadium flow batteries will play a crucial role in supporting the energy transition, are seen as a complement to existing lithium-ion solutions and possess a number of key advantages in terms of performance, duration and lifetime over the incumbent technology.

Persistent concerns around lithium-ion safety and raw material sourcing practices also present opportunities for non-flammable, sustainably-sourced alternatives, of which vanadium flow batteries are a leading contender.

“The California energy storage market points toward a future that includes longer-duration, non-lithium storage,” said Larry Zulch, Invinity’s chief executive officer. “The California Energy Commission has taken a leadership role in driving the diversity of storage technologies this future requires. Getting the CEC’s support and that of our impressive partners in these projects is a major vote of confidence.”

Further details regarding the individual projects are currently confidential, pending finalisation of project contracting. Further announcements will be made in due course.