Duke Energy Corporation (NYSE: DUK) said today it has chosen a 36 megawatt (MW) battery system developed by Xtreme Power Inc. to store and manage power generated at Duke’s 153 MW Notrees Windpower Project in west Texas. The company said the storage system will be one of the largest of its kind in the world and will be operating by late 2012.
The potential for vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFBs) to be “the next big thing” that will enable economical storage of wind and solar energy needs several more years to be proven -- or not. However, that has not deterred a flock of mostly Canadian junior mining companies -- backed by enthusiastic investors -- from exploring for vanadium-bearing ores in Canada, the U.S. and around the world which can be processed into electrolyte for VRFBs.
Although vanadium redox flow batteries (VRFBs) have the potential to be “the next big thing” that would enable economical storage of wind and solar energy, there are no existing or planned utility-scale installations after more than 25 years of development. One small venture capital-funded private company, Prudent Energy Corporation, is leading development.
Proponents of the metal vanadium believe it will improve the economics of wind and solar power enough to make them cost-competitive with fossil fuels. Batteries using vanadium have the right combination of scaleability, power and discharge/recharge characteristics to store wind and solar power until it can used during peak demands when prices are highest.