An almond orchard just east of Turlock, Valley View Farms, is now home to a remarkable technology that experts say may help stabilize the entire state’s electrical grid in the very near future.
On Thursday EnerVault Turlock unveiled the world’s largest iron-chromium redox flow battery and storage facility, built by Turlock-based JKB Energy.
The battery takes energy from the sun using an attached solar panel array and stores it in tanks full of 95 percent saltwater. That stored energy can then be used any time it is needed. Essentially it is “bottled sunshine,” independent of the electrical grid.
Traditionally, the energy generated from solar power must be used very quickly. The technology to store the energy for long periods of time did not exist until now, thanks to EnerVault Turlock and JKB Energy.
California Energy Commission Chair Robert Weisenmiller says the EnerVault storage system is the “holy grail” of sustainable energy.
“The trick is being able to store electricity when the sun is not shining,” Weisenmiller said. “This storage is a real game changer. What EnerVault Turlock is doing is bottling sunshine and that is something we really need now.”
At this time the battery can hold up to 250 kilowatts for four hours, which is enough electricity to power 50 to 100 homes.
For now, the energy is being used for agricultural purposes such as powering water pumps for irrigation.
EnerVault CEO Jim Pape says the battery’s scale be increased dramatically with little to no problem.
The revolutionary technology was so impressive that five years ago the U.S. Department of Energy contributed $5 million in stimulus funds to help develop the battery.
“EnerVault Turlock has demonstrated that our technology in inherently safe, reliable and cost effective. We can manufacture large-scale systems quickly and reliably. There is no gigafactory required,” said Pape.
Pape says EnerVault and JKB Energy hope to begin building new energy storage facilities throughout the Valley. JKB owner James K. Brenda says local contractors were used build to the facility, and he hopes to build many more to generate local jobs for contractors and tradesmen.
Photo by Jonathan McCorkell/TurlockCityNews.com