Energy Vault starts building green hydrogen storage project

Energy Vault has started building a 293 MWh green hydrogen and battery storage facility in northern California, within the service territory of Pacific Gas & Electric utility.

Energy Vault, a utility-scale energy storage company, has begun building what will be the largest green hydrogen long-duration energy storage project in the United States, located in northern California.

The green hydrogen and battery storage facility, with a capacity of 293 MWh, is being built in Calistoga, within the service territory of utility Pacific Gas & Electric.

Calistoga is particularly vulnerable to public safety power shutdowns, which are proactive outages that the utility implements when weather conditions increase the risk of wildfires caused by its power lines.

PG&E’s infrastructure has been linked to multiple wildfires in northern California, and the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2019 to address these liabilities.

The Calistoga Resiliency Center, as the project is called, is expected to be completed by the end of the second quarter of 2024, at which point it will be “the first-of-its-kind and the largest utility-scale green hydrogen energy storage project in the United States,” according to Energy Vault.

The facility will replace the diesel generators that PG&E currently uses to provide backup power to the region during wildfire-related outages.

It will be capable of powering downtown Calistoga and its immediate surroundings, including critical facilities such as fire and police stations, for up to 48 hours.

According to Marco Terruzzin, the company’s chief product officer, this project required unique design and engineering capabilities because it was the first of its kind.

The new facility’s “innovative design is an example of two proven technologies – hydrogen fuel cells and batteries – being used in concert on a single site to provide high-quality emission-free power,”

The facility will operate independently of the larger grid, which means the fuel cells and batteries must collaborate to provide a ‘grid-forming’ electricity supply that can respond instantly to the demands of the Calistoga microgrid and increase or decrease power output as needed, he added.

“Deploying cost-effective, next-generation energy supply and long-term storage technologies is essential to ensuring grid reliability and to achieving PG&E’s goal of a net zero energy system by 2040,” Mike Delaney, PG&E’s vice president of utility partnerships and innovation, said.

Under the companies’ 10.5-year agreement, Energy Vault will own and operate the center, providing PG&E with dispatchable power. The company plans to use its energy management system, dubbed VaultOS™, to optimize the project’s operations.

The California market is particularly appealing to Energy Vault when it comes to ultra-long duration energy storage solutions because of the increased risk of prolonged wildfire-related shutoffs, Terruzzin said.

More broadly, the company is seeing an increased interest in the use of green hydrogen in utility-scale microgrids from utilities looking for configurations similar to the one being constructed in Calistoga, as well as from the public and private sectors interested in multi-day resiliency solutions, he added.

“We expect that interest to increase as customers shift their focus from simple [power purchase agreements] to 24/7 PPAs that match their electric power hour-by-hour with the electricity being generated in the region in which the customer’s electric load is located,” he said.

Source Energy Vault

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