Zinc Air Battery for Wind Energy

A Minnesota wind farm has signed a letter of intent with Kalispell-based Zinc Air Inc. for the installation of a 1-megawatt advanced energy storage system developed by Zinc Air.

Juhl Wind Inc., a leader in developing community-based wind power, plans to install the system at its recently acquired Woodstock Hills wind farm near the company’s headquarters in Woodstock, Minn.

Zinc Air developed its Zinc Redox flow battery to achieve rapid payback periods and offer green battery technology. The competitive storage solution allows a wind farm to store and shift wind power for flexible use by utility operators.

Zinc Air has been fine-tuning its Zinc Redox grid storage technology over the past two years and recently moved its research and development center and corporate offices to a facility on U.S. 2 West north of Glacier Park International Airport.

“We selected Zinc Air and its core technology for our first system because we believe it offers the combination of being the most advanced technology along with the most environmentally safe option in the field of energy storage,” said Dan Juhl, chairman and chief executive officer of Juhl Wind. “We have carefully studied the growth in storage technologies because we believe large scale storage will unlock the full value of wind power.

“If we can build a combination wind farm with storage for the cost of a new coal plant, we are confident we can deliver totally clean electricity that can compete head-to-head with the wholesale energy market today and into the future,” Juhl continued. “With no fuel costs and all of the obvious health benefits, if we can deliver a dispatchable resource that is head-to-head competitive, wind power can grow even more rapidly.”

The first phase of the wind turbines project will involve development and installation of the grid storage system based on securing a revenue arrangement from a utility buyer or within the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator marketplace. MISO is a nonprofit member-based organization committed to being the leader in electricity markets.

Zinc Air battery chemistry reduces fundamental costs through the use of locally abundant and nonhazardous materials that result in a simpler system.

“Zinc Air Redox products are designed to have the highest round-trip energy efficiency, multiple revenue applications and lower cost of operation — as to achieve best payback periods — while still being the greenest battery technology in the market. We have designed the product with the end customer in mind first,” stated Peter Walters, chief operating officer of Zinc Air Inc.

Using a flow battery technology, Zinc Air Redox Energy Storage Systems are well-suited for grid storage applications, including energy peak shifting and renewables (solar power / wind energy) integration, and are designed to address the issues of matching demand with supply and variability, Walters said.

Dave Wilkins, president and CEO of Zinc Air, said the company is looking forward to working with Juhl Wind on the initial program and the additional utility-scale storage systems programs.

“As one of the leading developers of wind power, Juhl Wind is a strategic partner that establishes Zinc Air in the critical wind energy market,” Wilkins said in a prepared statement.

“The wind energy market and other renewable markets will continue to be a focus for the company in order to best exploit flow battery technology.”

Wilkins noted in an earlier interview with the Daily Inter Lake that over the last century, one of the biggest challenges in the power industry has been the inability to store electricity.

This is especially critical in the rapidly emerging renewable energy sector that includes wind power and solar energy, he said. Electricity storage is projected to be a $200 billion market opportunity in the United States, Wilkins added.