Hardware in the Loop Testing of Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries for Microgrid Applications
Benjamin Lavoie | Ameresco, Inc.
The objective of this project is to validate the reliability and operational performance of Vanadium Redox Flow (VRF) battery equipment through Hardware in the Loop (HIL) testing. Ameresco’s Phase 1 work showed that there is opportunity for VRF storage technology to reduce reliance on diesel generation and lower the cost of critical load support within a military microgrid. This testing sets out to validate the Phase 1 simulation results by testing the real performance of VRF equipment in a lab environment to quantify reliability metrics, evaluate equipment maturity and operational effectiveness, and simulate VRF operation through a series of grid paralleled and microgrid simulation sequences.
Advanced energy storage offers advantages to diesel generators in its ability to instantaneously respond to power commands and charge and discharge to balance supply and demand in a microgrid. It is energy limited, and as such is not intended to fully replace all diesel generators (DG). However, Phase 1 work shows that energy storage could reliably replace the least running DG asset to support mission critical operations while also creating significant value during grid paralleled operation. VRF technology offers unique advantages to currently deployed Li-Ion battery systems in the way of better inherent safety and no energy capacity degradation over time. However, Phase 1 work showed that the expected round trip efficiency and auxiliary power requirements of the VRF system have significant flaws that impair grid tied operation. Verification of these assumptions through lab testing is a major goal of this phase of work.
This work will advance the body of knowledge and testing experience of flow technology. Conducting this work in an HIL lab setting will complete critical evaluation, integration and cybersecurity activities at a significantly lower cost than field implementation. If successful and field deployment of the VRF technology is justified, the work herein will reduce risk of such field implementation, thereby reducing cost and time associated with field implementation at Department of Defense (DoD) installations. If successful in field deployment, this work shows opportunity to reduce 20-year cost of critical load coverage and generate new value opportunities for the DoD.