WEC Energy Group has announced that it will spearhead a pilot project at its Valley Power Plant in Milwaukee to evaluate a new type of long-duration energy storage system.
According to the energy firm, the project will be conducted in partnership with U.S. nonprofit Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and German battery storage producer CMBlu Energy.
“One of our most important goals is to help shape the future of clean energy — testing technologies that could be true game changers,” said Gale Klappa, Executive Chairman of WEC Energy Group. “On-demand energy storage is clearly a key component to an energy transition that is affordable, reliable and clean.”
We Energies, a subsidiary of WEC, runs the natural gas-fired, combined heat and power Valley plant after having converted from coal-fired operations years ago. The 272-MW Valley supplies electricity and steam to customers.
The 1-to-2 MWh pilot will assess the performance of CMBlu’s Organic SolidFlow battery system, including discharge durations ranging from five to 10 hours, which is up to double the discharge duration of conventional lithium-ion batteries.
“CMBlu Energy appreciates WEC Energy Group’s commitment to guide the future of long duration energy storage for its customers and the electric power industry," said Ben Kaun, President of CMBlu Energy. “This demonstration supports our roadmap of tailored products and manufacturing of Organic SolidFlow batteries in the United States.”
The battery system uses a flow battery technology with components made from abundant, recyclable materials. It is expected to deliver safe and reliable performance, with a high energy density that enables compact solutions for electric utilities.
The pilot project is scheduled for testing in the fourth quarter of this year and the findings will be shared with the utility industry. EPRI will publish a complete analysis of the project results in early 2024.
“The results of the pilot will provide key insights on how this innovation can be applied around the country,” Neva Espinzoa, Vice President of Energy Supply and Low-Carbon Resources at EPRI, said. “We look forward to collaborating with WEC Energy Group and CMBlu Energy to help provide solutions to enable additional resilience through the energy transition.”
Based in Milwaukee, WEC Energy Group serves 4.6 million customers in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota.