The Pentagon awards Lockheed Martin a contract for a crucial system for energy storage

Called the 'GridStar Flow,' it's a megawatt-scale wonder.
Christopher McFadden
Digital mockup of the "GridStar Flow" systemLockheed Martin

In energy storage news, The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded Lockheed Martin with a contract to construct the nation's first megawatt-scale long-duration energy storage system. Under the direction of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center's (ERDC) Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL), the new system, called "GridStar Flow," will be set up at Fort Carson, Colorado.

"GridStar Flow is an innovative redox flow battery designed for large-capacity storage applications that stores power generated from renewable energy sources and exports it to electric grids during peak demand or unanticipated electricity loss," read Lockheed Martin's news release.

According to Lockheed Martin, the new system will help reduce the amount of backup fossil fuel needed by DoD facilities to maintain vital mission activities during a 14- to 30-day grid outages to achieve energy resilience. Large amounts of fuel can be difficult to store on-site and interruptions during a broad, protracted outage could prevent restocking.

To ensure vital operations can continue in the case of a protracted power loss, GridStar Flow is optimized to give a duration of six or more hours of power. In addition to this, it has been developed to accomplish additional benefits including:

• The ability to quickly swap between use cases to increase income

• 100 percent depth-of-discharge with little deterioration

• A 20-year design lifespan

• The capacity to estimate power and energy independently

• Safe, mildly alkaline aqueous electrolytes (nonflammable, noncorrosive, stable)

• Affordable overall cost of ownership

The first installation will act as a test-bed for other sites

The Army and ERDC-CERL intend to use Lockheed Martin's first customer-sited production system as a demonstration unit. To verify that crucial missions can continue in the case of a protracted power loss, this system will be evaluated using protocols that replicate microgrid and renewable integration.

It is anticipated the discharge will last for 10 hours.

"Electric grids are undergoing unprecedented change. Energy requirements are shifting as we consider renewable resources coupled with utility-scale, long-duration storage options," said Dr. Andrew J. Nelson, director at CERL. "Solutions to increase resiliency and self-sufficiency are crucial to economically and sustainably supporting DoD operations," he added. 

The deployment of long-duration storage across all DoD services and installations in the future will also be guided by the knowledge learned from this pilot project.

"We are committed to supporting the U.S. Army’s climate strategy to foster modernization and readiness across the force while seeking out solutions that offer a more secure, sustainable, and cleaner future," said Tom Jarvi, Lockheed Martin GridStar Flow program director. "GridStar Flow is designed to meet emerging, long-duration energy storage needs and bolsters the necessary grid resilience to combat 21st-century security challenges."

Lockheed Martin, ERDC-CERL, and the U.S Army plan to break ground on the new GridStar Flow project in the fall of 2022.

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