WEC Energy Group
, the Milwaukee-based parent company of We Energies
, is planning to partner with a German company on a battery storage pilot project at the Valley Power Plant in Milwaukee.
The company will work with CMBlu Energy
and the Energy Power Research Institute
to test a new form of long-duration energy storage. The 1-to-2-megawat-hour pilot project is described as the first of its kind on the U.S. electric grid.
CMBlu’s system “uses a proprietary flow battery technology with components from abundant, recyclable materials,” WEC said in a press release.
“In simple English, it’s a green battery,” Gale Klappa, executive chairman of WEC Energy Group, said on the company’s earnings call.
Battery storage has played an increasingly important component in WEC’s plan to shift electricity generation away from coal-fired power plants toward more renewable sources. Solar projects the company has announced and is building also include battery storage components to help better manage and balance peaks in electricity use with peaks in generation.
The system in the pilot study will be tested for performance, including discharge durations of five to 10 hours, which is up to twice as long as lithium-ion batteries currently in use, according to WEC.
"One of our most important goals is to help shape the future of clean energy — testing technologies that could be true game changers," Klappa said in WEC’s release. "On-demand energy storage is clearly a key component to an energy transition that is affordable, reliable and clean."
Klappa said the pilot would take place in the fourth quarter of the year, noting during the earnings call that the timing coincides with the weather turning colder.
Results will be shared across the industry in early 2024.
"The results of the pilot will provide key insights on how this innovation can be applied around the country," said Neva Espinzoa, vice president — energy supply and low-carbon resources at ERPI.