WEC Energy Group executives say the Wisconsin-based utility holding company will lead a test of a new type of long-duration energy storage at its 266.6MW Valley natural gas plant in Milwaukee. The nonprofit Electric Power Research Institute and German manufacturer CMBlu Energy AG will use the site to run a flow battery made with components from abundant, recyclable materials. The battery will be tested for discharge durations of up to 10 hours, starting in the fourth quarter of 2023. "We believe it can store energy for up to twice as long as the typical batteries in use today," Gale Klappa, WEC's Executive Chairman, said during a Feb. 2 earnings call. "We plan to launch the project at our Valley Power Plant near downtown Milwaukee in the fourth quarter of this year when temperatures turn cold. The results will be shared in early 2024 across the industry.

"These batteries are expected to provide safe and reliable operation, with a high energy density that will enable compact solutions for a variety of applications for electric utilities," the company said in its news release. WEC is yet another U.S. utility searching for reliability solutions to replace fossil fuel generation with billions of dollars worth of new intermittent wind and solar plants over the decade. WEC is also partnering with the EPRI on a hydrogen project. Citing the availability of new U.S. tax credits for renewable energy projects, WEC in late 2022 announced a revised five-year capital plan of $20.1 billion. It will allocate $7.3 billion to building up to 3,300 MW in new wind, solar and storage projects as it retires its coal capacity by 2035.”

Klappa said the company expects the five-year investment plan to drive compound earnings growth of 6.5 percent to seven percent per year over the period 2023 through 2027.

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