MESA, vanadium batteries put to the test in Pacific Northwest
The future of utility-scale energy storage could soon be on display in the Pacific Northwest.
Three Washington state utilities are deploying a total of five cutting-edge systems that will be evaluated by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash. Three of the systems were constructed according to a set of standards designed to make utility-scale storage systems easier and cheaper to build, and two use a new type of battery system based on technology developed at the lab.
The utilities received a total of $14.3 million from the state’s Clean Energy Fund for the energy-storage projects and had to put up an equal amount themselves.
“In all three cases, it really was a situation where they wanted to try out some new technologies that could be integrated into their systems, but [the technologies] weren’t at the stage of maturity to be able to justify all of the costs” of the projects, said Tony Usibelli, the director of the Washington State Energy Office, which administers the Clean Energy Fund.
The utilities that received the funds are Bellevue-based Puget Sound Energy, Spokane-based Avista Corp. and the Snohomish County Public Utility District, which is headquartered in Everett.
The Puget Sound Energy and Snohomish PUD projects use the Modular Energy Storage Architecture – or MESA – set of specifications and standards, which were developed by a group of utilities and their suppliers.
Puget Sound Energy, the Snohomish PUD, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and UniEnergy Technologies LLC, which is making batteries based on technology it licensed from the lab, are among the group’s founding members. Contributing members include Juno Beach, Fla.-based NextEra Energy, Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke Energy Corp. and Bethesda, Md.-based Lockheed Martin Corp., an indication that the group has attracted some pretty big movers-and-shakers in the electric power industry and its supply chain.
MESA is meant to solve a problem that often plagues early deployments of a technology, which is that each is treated uniquely, increasing the time and effort of doing it.
“When we first got into energy storage, there was a lot of non-recurring engineering going on, so when each system was designed, we were redesigning how each component connected and communicated with each other,” said Jason Zykowski, the Snohomish PUD’s manager of substation engineering.