Energy Vault, the developer selected to build, own and operate a battery-plus-hydrogen fuel energy storage project in Calistoga, California, has selected Plug Power to supply 8 MW of fuel cells.
Energy Vault is constructing a community microgrid for utility firm Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to provide Calistoga with at least 293 MWh of dispatchable carbon-free energy during planned outages and Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events.
The microgrid system will include a combination of short-duration batteries and green hydrogen-fed fuel cells to provide backup power for over 48 hours during emergencies, particularly in the face of wildfires. Plug’s fuel cell power, made up of 40-foot ISO containers, will serve as the microgrid’s stationary backup power generator.
According to Energy Vault, the microgrid is designed to eliminate the need for PG&E to rent mobile diesel generators for backup power in Calistoga during PSPS events. For the ultra-long duration need and multi-day discharge, the company has selected Plug’s PEM (proton exchange membrane) fuel cells, which can offer cleaner and more cost-effective power to the microgrid.
The microgrid’s power will be dispatched and optimized by Energy Vault’s technology-neutral energy management digital platform called Vault-OS.
Energy Vault will own, operate, and maintain the energy storage system, supplying dispatchable power under a long-term agreement with PG&E. Construction of the energy storage system in Calistoga is expected to commence in the fourth quarter of 2023, with commercial operation anticipated in the second quarter of 2024.
“Our agreement with Energy Vault marks a huge step forward for hydrogen fuel cells in the microgrid market and represents the future of utility power back-up,” said Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug. “Green hydrogen is uniquely positioned to solve the need for clean long-duration energy storage in at-risk communities like Calistoga that are susceptible to power interruptions. Energy Vault’s unique energy storage integration platform, for short, long, and multi-day duration, has facilitated the adoption of our hydrogen-powered fuel cells and minimized the overall cost of the microgrid, making possible the final approval by the CPUC.”