Source: Times Free Press | Dave Flessner | September 23, 2017
Three months after activating its 4-acre solar array along Holtzclaw Avenue, EPB is tying the power generated by the sun into a new type of flow battery that officials hope could be a model for modernizing the power grid.
Chattanooga’s municipal power utility on Friday energized a 100 kilowatt vanadium redox flow battery that researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory developed and which Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers will study.
The battery is a new type of technology that utilities could use to supplement or even substitute for some substations to ensure that electricity keeps flowing even when its generation source or transmission line is knocked offline.
“Because Chattanooga’s power distribution infrastructure combines a communitywide fiber optics network with more than 1,200 automated power management devices to form one of the most advanced smart grids in the country, we are well-positioned to serve as a living laboratory for testing new technologies and developing best practices that will help other utilities modernize their infrastructure,” EPB Chairman Joe Ferguson said.
The battery is capable of delivering up to four hours of power at a time. Although its power output of 100 kilowatts is a tiny fraction of EPB’s power load, the new device attracted plenty of political power during a dedication Friday.
Both of Tennessee’s U.S. senators — Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker — and two members of the U.S. House of Representatives — Reps. Chuck Fleischmann and Diane Black — praised the innovative technology and the DOE labs that provided the research for the commercial venture.
EPB’s project is a partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory as part of the DOE’s Grid Modernization Lab Consortium program.