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California Approves $30M Grant for Long-term Energy Storage Project

Cali Energy

Energy storage firm Form Energy is the most recent company to be approved for a grant under the California Energy Commission (CEC.) The grant is meant for the construction of an energy storage initiative that will infuse power into the grid for at least 100 hours.

Form Energy’s proposed 5MW / 500MWh iron-air battery storage facility will be the largest initiative of its kind to be built within the state, as well as the first-ever to use a more cost-efficient technology. In this case, the iron-air tech that will be in use follows principles related to reversible rusting. 

Iron-air battery cells have both iron and air electrodes, as well as a non-flammable and water-based electrolyte solution. As it discharges, the battery pulls in oxygen from the air; this oxidizes the iron, causing it to rust. When it charges, on the other hand, the application of electricity will transform the rust back into iron while the battery cells emit oxygen.

As the costs involved in operating iron-air battery technology are lower than those for the production of lithium-ion batteries, this was another factor that earned its approval from the CEC. 

The Form Energy grant is only the third that has been approved under the CEC Long-Duration Energy Storage Program. This was meant as a way to invest into non-lithium-ion technologies throughout California in order to diversify the state’s energy storage tech portfolio. On completion the Form Energy project will join San Diego’s 60MW renewable backup power microgrid, as well as Tehama County’s 20MW microgrid. 

On completion, the Form Energy facility will help augment California’s energy storage capabilities. As of August 2023, the state already had 6,600MW-worth of battery storage in use. It operates at industry standard, discharging up to six hours’ worth of power. According to CEC officials, they hope to increase the amount to around 8,600MW. 

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