Replace gas-powered generators with portable batteries? VT company gets big grant

Moveable back-up battery power by NOMAD of Waterbury

By Michael Bielawski
A company called Nomad Transportable Power Systems, Inc. (NOMAD), based in Waterbury, has been contracted to supply five Vermont communities with portable batteries intended to aid outage-stricken residents in a similar fashion as gas-powered generators do.

The company is getting a $9.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to “bring long-duration energy storage to five communities in rural Vermont” according to a statement.

Company officials say they “will be building a new, mobile, long-duration energy storage solution using KORE Power’s next-gen modules. Each NOMAD unit will be capable of providing power to about 50 homes for 10 hours.”

NOMAD CEO Paul Coombs says the grant money “will ensure that the benefits of clean energy and long-duration storage reach communities that need them. … We are proud that the systems NOMAD builds here in Vermont will benefit rural communities of the Northeast that are too often left behind.”

NOMAD was formed by KORE Power in 2020, a manufacturer of lithium-ion battery cells. KORE will be working with NOMAD on this project. Also, the Electric Power Research Institute will help monitor how well this turns out in terms of performance and costs.

Green Mountain Power, Vermont’s largest electricity utility, also is involved. Mari McClure, GMP’s president, and CEO, said they are “excited to continue rapidly growing battery storage in Vermont to keep everyone powered up through extreme weather.”

GMP already uses portable battery technology to alleviate the grid during times of high demand.

Gas powered generators getting new emission restrictions?
The move comes on the heels of a recent proposal by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to overhaul carbon monoxide emission standards for gas-powered generators.

Early analysis from industry leaders says that this would immediately render most existing generators non-compliant. Vermont energy expert Meredith Angwin called the proposal “a kind of cruelty” to inhibit access to generators during a time of increased uncertainty with the electric grid. The VDC report is here.

Jury is still out on which technology is better
The onset of this new technology has already stirred debate on which technology, the existing gas-powered generators or the portable batteries, are preferable. A report by EcoFlow (an electric generator company) details some of the differences.

The early consensus is it depends on the situation. The new batteries are ideal because they are lightweight, they are silent, have no emissions, and can be recharged by being plugged into an outlet, a car, or an attached solar panel.

The cons are that they cannot ‘generate’ power, at least not without a solar system attached. They also lack the capacity to power as many devices with only about half the capacity compared to their gas-powered counterparts.

Gas-powered generators are ideal for those who need high capacity to power more machines. They can be continuously refueled as needed, whereas the batteries must recharge which takes about an hour. Gas-powered generators are also an established industry rather than a relatively unproven technology.

The cons are that they weigh more, they do make noise and they do have emissions.

More blackouts coming?
A report by Forbes says that the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, says a “changing resource mix” (switching to intermittent energies such as wind and solar power) in addition to “aging and under-invested electrical grid” are signs that more blackouts are on the way.

Categories: Energy

20 replies »

  1. Fine, if you don’t mind being captive to the US Dept. of Energy and GMP, but I prefer my independence to slavery.

  2. A giant truck sized lithium battery. I wonder how much mining is involved in that process?

    It also occurs to me that having those all over the state with natural disasters (supposedly) happening at a more rapid rate poses a risk to all of our inhabitants. Anything that threatens the structure of one of those is going to make a HUGE fire that can’t be put out for hours… Can you imagine the amount of energy that could be instantly dumped into the river from one of those that shorts out? What if another military targeted them simultaneously putting the power out and also starting thousands of unstoppable fires and unintended discharges?

    Our government is full bright ideas that aren’t thought fully out.

  3. Has anybody figured out what makes lithium batteries burst into flames ?

  4. Federal Money Laundering at its Best toward a Most Inconceivably Stupid Idea . Your Tax Dollars at work , By Brain-damaged and Blackmailed elected (. Selected ) Officials

    GMP is a B Operation not subject to audits . Commies

  5. Whoa there, climate evangelists… this isn’t really a solution to outages. The amount and equipment manpower and time to deploy make this Battery Energy Storage System little more than a feel good panacea for the green crowd. For the vast majority of outages, the time required to transport and connect this unit exceeds the outage duration. For disasters such as winter storms and the the recent floods, the infrastructure- poles and lines must be repaired before electricity will flow again, whether from these units or the grid. Fancy that.
    These units would help GMP to peak-shave, that is to satisfy peak demand without spot purchases of power from the grid. But, if these units are stored somewhere for ready deployment- then they cannot do much peak-shaving, can they?
    Tell me again the upside to this grant?

  6. Isn’t it wonderful how some people can spend, I mean waste, other peoples money. For GMP, or any other utility, the higher the cost, the higher the justified rate.

  7. What’s hilarious about this cockamamie idea is that they think they can do easily replace gas generators. “The battery trucks are here! We’re saved!!” I am ROTFL!

    “Just plug it in” they say? To what, if I have no electricity, genius?! Or plug it into your local solar panel! Cool, there must be one around here somewhere. Sure, and there’s a ton of sunshine showing through all the chem trails in the sky these days. We’ll just put ’em out in the sun. Perfect idea during the winter, too! Just in case I need to run my heat pump so I don’t freeze to death when the power goes out.

    The climate craziness has become pervasive and downright ridiculous. Where is the voice of logic in these discussions? Oh, I forgot, most people only listen to the side that’s the loudest. Dear God, save us!

  8. “Each NOMAD unit will be capable of providing power to about 50 homes for 10 hours.”

    This reminds me of Dear Leader tossing rolls of paper towels into a crowd of flood survivors after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico

  9. Now I’ve heard it all. When the power goes out, a big battery truck will pull up to provide power. It is about as believable as when our state house representative said the electric power needs which they say will double by 2050 will be met by solar panels. Vermont would have to knock down all the forests to create enough land area to place enough solar panels for the electricity needed. And what about the winder when it is grey most of the time. You can tell they have really thought this through!

  10. 50 homes for “up to” 10 hours. Don’t turn on any household appliances during that time like a well pump! What’s going to power the fossil fuel heat hot water circulators in winter after 10 hrs? The Energizer Bunny? What if you can SEE your neighbor with juice 1/4 mile away but you have none because you’re not part of the chosen 50?

  11. Funny, they don’t mention Amp Hours in their claims. 50 Homes for 10 hrs…..but at how many amp hrs being drawn for each home? This is a limp wristed presentation of another far fetched fantasy.

  12. $9.5 million would buy a lot of gas-powered generators and the hooking them up. That would be what people actually need so forget it.

  13. Wow, just wow, last Christmas we were out for 72 hours, I’ll stick with my fossil fuel generator

    • Doesn’t this whole idea make you wonder who is in charge? God help us all!

      • It makes me wonder if the eggheads pushing it have stock in solar, and everybody else be damed