MSE International unveiled its development plan for the BlueStor energy storage project on May 10. According to the available information about the project, BlueStor is an energy storage and distribution system that will be integrated into a seaport. Furthermore, its underlying technology is organic flow battery. Based in the UK, MSE International is a consortium of maritime companies. To finance the development of BlueStor, MSE International has secured funding from the UK Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) under the Longer Duration Energy Storage (LODES) Competition.
Located in Portsmouth, BlueStor will be developed in multiple phases. The first phase, which examines the feasibility of the project, is expected to finish by the end of May. The development plan details the setup of a prototype system that will help decarbonize the electricity supply for the seaport and support the operation of two berthing cruise vessels.
The ongoing research on the feasibility of the project has found that even though the energy density of an organic flow battery cell is low, a 50MW/600MW energy storage system comprises organic flow batteries will actually be more compact than an equivalent that comprises Li-ion batteries. Furthermore, organic flow battery has advantages such as low environmental impact and low risk of operational hazards. Its electrolyte is non-toxic and non-flammable. Hence, the technology is suited for deployment at seaports and in coastal areas, where stricter environmental and safety standards apply. It should also be pointed out that organic flow battery costs significantly less than Li-ion battery.
MSE International is confident that the feasibility study will conclude successfully. This will allow the consortium to secure the additional funding for the second phase of the project, which is the actual building of the prototype system. According to MSE International and the reporting by other news outlets, the prototype system will be built on a floating platform that is docked at Portsmouth. During the periods of low electricity demand, the prototype system will procure the electricity that supports the operation of visiting vessels. MSE International said the energy storage system that it is developing offers many benefits. Besides powering visiting vessels and in-port assets (e.g., cranes and vehicles), the large-scale organic flow battery can optimize wholesale electricity arbitrage, reduce investment costs related to adding grid-connected generation capacity, and provide load balancing services at low prices.
MSE International is the lead developer in BlueStor. Other participants in the project include Swanbarton, Houlder, and CMBlu. Swanbarton is providing controls and interfaces for the energy storage system and has a supporting role in battery engineering and construction. Houlder is designing the floating platform and the port-vessel interfaces. CMBlu provides the electro-chemistry for the organic flow battery. The prototype will be the first of its kind in the UK.
The BEIS announced this February that it had allocated GBP 6.7 million in funding to support the development of the projects under the first phase of the LODES Competition. In the second phase of the competition, the selected projects will be evaluated in terms of technology readiness level. The projects that stand out will receive a greater portion of the available funding. The competition, which was launched last year, is part of the UK government’s 10-Point Plan for Green Industrial Revolution. Bluestor appears to be progressing smoothly in the competition as it has arranged a long-term contract with the BEIS.