RedT Energy selected to provide energy storage technology for large-scale European project
UK based energy company RedT Energy has been selected to be the 'primary energy storage technology provider for a large-scale tidal generation project' reports Andrew Williams.
At this stage, little detailed information about the exact nature of the European Union backed project is in the public domain - largely because the initiative remains subject to final financing arrangements and formal contract awards. In recognition of this fact, a spokesperson for RedT Energy is understandably coy about the exact details of the scheme. That said, the spokesperson does reveal that the project 'will aim to demonstrate the technical and financial feasibility of using tidal energy plus energy storage to provide reliable, renewable base load energy to the grid.'
"RedT has been selected as the primary energy storage supplier for the project and plans to supply a 0.6MW, 3MWh redT flow machine system," he says.
Shortly before the announcement, the company also confirmed that it had completed the design of the latest version of its vanadium redox flow cell which it says is slated for delivery in the second half of this year. In broad terms, these devices will be employed to support tidal generation at the site by storing the excess energy produced during the two daily tidal cycles.
The energy storage technology - which the company describes as a Vanadium Redox Flow Machine - features a 75kWh electrolyte tank coupled with three 5kW stacks that act as the overall 'engine' of the system. Each stack contains a permeable membrane that separates the positive and negative halves of each cell. Vanadium electrolyte from the positive tank is then pumped through the positive side of the stack - and vanadium electrolyte from the negative tank is pumped through the negative side of the stack. The result of this process is that the vanadium ions in the positive half-cell give up an electron. Each of these electrons is then transferred over to the vanadium ions in the negative half-cell. The company describes this reversible chemical reaction as a 'redox reaction' - and, when complete, the system becomes fully charged. Upon discharge, the above reaction is reversed, and the opposite process takes place - causing electrical current to flow.
INDUSTRIAL ENERGY STORAGE
In the spokesperson's view, one of the main advantages of using the energy storage technology for this - and other - tidal energy projects, is the fact that the redT machines are what he describes as 'non-degrading, industrial energy storage infrastructure, as opposed to traditional short lifespan, disposable batteries, which typically use lithium or other chemistries.'
"The non-degrading aspect is a key advantage given the fact that tidal generation requires two cycles each day - which constitutes very heavy usage and would render traditional technologies unusable after a few years," he says.
"RedT systems - by comparison - can operate with minimal maintenance for 25 years or more, matching the life of the generation assets themselves," he adds.
In general terms, the RedT spokesperson is also keen to stress that the company continues to be diligent in its work focused on creating what he describes as 'new and innovative business cases for energy storage both in the UK and abroad.'
Over the next few years, he is also very confident that tidal will 'continue to grow as a base load energy generation technology.' That said, in order to 'fully unlock tidal as a 24 hour base load,' he argues that new energy projects will require 'heavy daily cycling energy storage, which is what flow machines do perfectly.'
"Once this case is proven, we would expect tidal developers to embrace flow machine energy storage technology as these projects roll out across the world," he adds.
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