Wildfire resilience | Largest green-hydrogen energy-storage project in US begins construction in California

Energy Vault | 23 February 2024

Construction has begun on the largest green-hydrogen energy-storage project in the US, which has been designed to protect a California city against wildfire-related grid shutdowns.

The 8.5MW/293MWh zero-carbon project in Calistoga, northern California, would use green hydrogen to power fuel cells that would then charge lithium-ion batteries provided by Swiss developer Energy Vault.

The Calistoga Resiliency Center has been designed to ensure that the city’s downtown area can continue to operate as normal for up to 48 hours in the event of a public safety power shutoff (PSPS), when power lines to the area must be turned off for safety reasons due to high wildfire risk.


California utility applies to build green hydrogen/battery storage system to power city for 48 hours during wildfire shutdown

This role is currently performed by mobile diesel generators.

Energy Vault will own, operate and maintain the project — which is due to be completed by the end of June — providing dispatchable power to more than 2,000 Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) customers under a ten-and-a-half-year agreement with the utility.

PG&E filed for bankruptcy protection in 2019 after the state of California blamed it for two devastating wildfires in 2017 and 2018, leaving it liable for billions of dollars of damages.


It is not clear how much green hydrogen would be required for the Calistoga project or what the ratio of lithium-ion battery to H2 energy storage might be. Nor is it clear where the hydrogen would come from — there does not seem to be any on-site electrolysers — although Energy Vault has said it will use green H2 made with renewable energy.


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“The timely start of construction is an important milestone in our partnership with PG&E to deliver this first of its kind microgrid solution. We greatly look forward to not only its delivery but most importantly to the sustainability benefits it will bring to the Calistoga community,” said Marco Terruzzin, chief commercial and product officer at Energy Vault.

Mike Delaney, vice-president, utility partnerships and innovation, at PG&E, added: “Deploying cost-effective, next-generation energy supply and long-term storage technologies is essential to ensuring grid reliability and to achieving PG&E’s goal of a net zero energy system by 2040.

“PG&E is developing a portfolio of promising new forms of electricity generation and storage technologies, and identifying the right applications that will support the further proliferation of these technologies at the lowest capital cost and highest-impact locations.”(Copyright)


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