Plug Power to supply 8MW hydrogen fuel cells to Energy Vault in California Wine Country
H2 solutions firm Plug Power has announced that a 8 MW hydrogen fuel cell stationary power systems will be delivered to Energy Vault Holdings, Inc. for supplying clean energy to the city of Calistoga, located in California Wine Country, during times of wildfires and other emergencies.
The company claims that this will be the largest planned hydrogen powered fuel cell installation in the United States, replacing diesel generators to power microgrids in the region during emergencies. Construction of the project is to begin in the last quarter of 2023, with commercial operation expected by Q3 of 2024.
The California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) requires that state utility grid operators shut off power during severe weather to help prevent wildfires. Energy Vault has typically rented mobile diesel generators to provide backup power in Calistoga during these Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events.
Plug's PEM (proton exchange membrane) fuel cells systems promises cleaner, operationally flexible, and cost-effective power solution to the microgrid. "Our agreement with Energy Vault marks a huge step forward for hydrogen fuel cells in the microgrid market and represents the future of utility power back-up," said Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug.
"Green hydrogen is uniquely positioned to solve the need for clean long-duration energy storage in at-risk communities like Calistoga that are susceptible to power interruptions. Plug's fuel cell solutions make it easy for partners like Energy Vault to harness the power of hydrogen fuel cell technology and realize CPUC's vision of clean microgrid generation", he added.
Energy Vault had previously announced that it is building a community microgrid for Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to provide Calistoga with a minimum of 293 MWh of dispatchable carbon-free energy during planned outages and PSPS events.
The microgrid will integrate a short duration battery system with a long duration storage system of fuel cells and green liquid hydrogen. Plug's fuel cell technology will serve as the microgrid's stationary backup power generator, according to the company.
The energy storage system will be owned, operated, and maintained by Energy Vault while providing dispatchable power under a long-term tolling agreement with PG&E. The fuel cell power system will be made up of 40-foot ISO containers.
The fuel cells will be manufactured in the US, primarily at Plug's gigafactory in Rochester, New York, and assembled and tested at Vista Technology Park, Plug's world-class fuel cell manufacturing facility in Slingerlands, New York. Localized production will allow Energy Vault to take advantage of the additional 10 percent ITC available under the IRA for American-made content, according to the manufacturer.