Home Energy company Canadian oil and gas pipeline company TC Energy set to launch higher-flow solar battery project

Canadian oil and gas pipeline company TC Energy set to launch higher-flow solar battery project

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Energy infrastructure group TC Energy has begun work on a solar photovoltaic power plant in Alberta, Canada, the company’s first solar project.

While the first phase of TC Energy’s Saddlebrook Solar Project will see the installation of a solar system with 81 MW of bifacial solar photovoltaic modules. In the second, there will be added a flow battery supplied by Lockheed Martin, with an output of 6.5 MW and a capacity of 40 MWh, making it possible to send the stored solar power to the grid during peak hours.

TC Energy is primarily known for the development of energy infrastructure for natural gas and oil pipelines, but has secured contracts for 400MW of renewable energy through power purchase agreements (PPAs) signed over the past last two years.

Like many traditional energy companies, it is also considering getting into the hydrogen business and plans to build a 60-tonne-per-day hydrogen hub at one of its natural gas storage facilities.

The company said it would invest C$146 million (US$106.4 million) to build the Saddlebrook plant, located near the small Alberta town of Aldersyde in an industrial park.

All regulatory approvals and permits for the project have been obtained and TC Energy expects construction to be completed within the next year.

Provincial not-for-profit Emissions Reduction Alberta is supporting the project with C$10 million in funding. Some of Emissions Reduction Alberta’s money comes from contributions made by industry groups to partially offset their greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting activities, and to date, support for more than 100 projects has been promised.

As reported by Energy-Storage.news in December 2021, the funding is to help cover the cost of the flow battery energy storage system.

This will be one of the first deployments by Lockheed Martin of its new product, called Gridstar Flow, and following its Gridstar Lithium solution, already marketed and used at various sites.

The multinational aerospace, defense and engineering company acquired SunCatalyx, a flow battery company spun off from MIT labs, in 2014 and began developing what would become Gridstar Flow, announcing its first commercial-scale test at a Lockheed Martin lab in 2020.

This test began shortly after the company signed an agreement with TC Energy to explore potential sites in North America for a project, before settling in Saddlebrook. The University of Calgary will work with them to study system performance and see what can be learned about the suitability of solar power with energy storage for Canada’s energy transition.

One of two flow battery projects at solar power plants supported by funding from Emissions Reduction Alberta

Lockheed Martin is believed to be investing around C$9 million in the project. While at the time of the December 2021 announcement the photovoltaic capacity was 102.5 MW and the flow battery was described as a 6.5 MW / 52 MWh (eight hour) system, a webpage d The project information created by TC Energy puts the flow battery at 6.5MW/40MWh and the bifacial solar panel at 81MW instead.

Like multinational engineering colleague Honeywell, which also developed proprietary flow battery technology, Lockheed Martin has so far kept the Gridstar Flow chemistry firmly under wraps. In addition to Saddlebrook, Alberta, the company is also deploying a 1MW/10MWh system at Fort Carson, a US Army installation in Colorado, USA, where an 8.5MWh Gridstar Lithium system is already used.

Emissions Reduction Alberta is backing another solar-plus-storage project with a flow battery, this time with less mysterious electrolytic chemistry: British-American vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) supplier Invinity Energy Systems will install one of its devices at Chappice Lake Solar +Storage.

In this case, Invinity will work with project developer Elemental Energy to deploy a 2.8 MW/8.4 MWh VRFB in a DC-coupled configuration at the new 21 MWp solar PV plant. Emissions Reduction Alberta will contribute an additional C$10 million to the projected total cost of C$40 million for Chappice Lake.

Alberta is the most coal-dependent province in Canada for its electricity and is home to a large fossil fuel industrial sector, including oil sands oil production. However, in recent years, the development of renewable energies and in particular solar plus storage and wind plus storage seems to have accelerated.

The province got its first large-scale battery system, at a wind farm, in 2020, and a few hundred megawatts of solar-plus-storage projects are under development. These include three solar parks with more than 700MW of photovoltaic generation capacity tied to 280MW of battery energy storage systems (BESS) from developers Greengate Power Corporation and Westbridge, as reported Energy-Storage.news in March of this year.