Storing Wind Power With Flow Batteries

Wind turbines capture the wind, but only when it’s blowing. How do you store that wind for use during calm periods to compensate for wind’s variability? The owners of a wind farm in Minnesota are answering that question with flow batteries, similar to fuel cells.

Juhl Wind Inc. has signed a Letter of Intent with Zinc Air, Inc. for the installation of a 1 Megawatt advanced energy storage system developed by Zinc Air. Juhl Wind plans to install the system at its recently acquired Woodstock Hills wind farm located near the Company’s headquarters in Woodstock, Minnesota.

Zinc Air Inc., based in Kalispell, Montana, is the developer of a Zinc Redox flow battery designed to achieve rapid payback periods while also being the greenest battery technology on the market. This competitive storage solution allows a wind farm to store and shift wind power for flexible use by utility operators.

“We selected Zinc Air and its core technology for our first system because we believe it offers the combination of being the most advanced technology along with the most environmentally safe option in the field of energy storage,” stated Dan Juhl, Chairman and CEO of Juhl Wind. “We have carefully studied the growth in storage technologies because we believe large scale storage will unlock the full value of wind power. If we can build a combination wind farm with storage for the cost of a new coal plant, we are confident we can deliver totally clean electricity that can compete head-to-head with the wholesale energy market today and into the future. With no fuel costs and all of the obvious health benefits, if we can deliver a dispatchable resource that is head-to-head competitive, wind power can grow even more rapidly. At Juhl, we want to be on the forefront of this next wave of wind power.”

The first phase of the project will provide for the development and installation of the grid storage system based on securing a revenue arrangement from a utility buyer or within the MISO marketplace. Zinc Air battery chemistry reduces fundamental costs through the use of locally abundant and non-hazardous materials that results in a simpler system.

“Zinc Air Redox products are designed to have the highest round-trip energy efficiency, multiple revenue applications, and lower cost of operation, as to achieve best payback periods, while still being the greenest battery technology in the market. We have designed the product with the end customer in mind first,” stated Peter Walters, COO of Zinc Air Inc. Using a flow battery technology, Zinc Air Redox Energy Storage Systems are well-suited for grid storage applications, including energy peak shifting and renewables (solar/wind) integration, designed to address the issues of matching demand with supply and variability.

We look forward to working with Juhl Wind on this initial program and the additional follow-on utility-scale storage systems programs,” stated Dave Wilkins, President and CEO of Zinc Air Inc. “As one of the leading developers of wind power, Juhl Wind is a strategic partner that establishes Zinc Air in the critical wind energy market. The wind energy market and other renewable markets will continue to be a focus for the company in order to best exploit flow battery technology.”

“When we acquired the Woodstock Hills wind farm this spring, we did so with a plan to ultimately add on our first utility-scale, storage system,” added John Mitola, President of Juhl Wind, Inc. “We are confident that a successful initial project can set the stage for larger growth of wind power in general and of course, for Juhl Wind and our farmer partners. Competitive, reliable storage can be a real game-changer for wind power and the entire utility grid. And, as we continue acquisitions of existing wind farms, the ability to bolt on storage can completely boost the economics of an existing project.”

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