Industry Market Trends

Using Biogas and Batteries to Process Onions

Dec 24, 2010

Gills Onions in Oxnard CA has a mission to sustainability and they are doing it through innovation and ingenuity. Without shedding a tear (that's an onion cutting joke), Gills is one of the nation's largest fresh-cut onion processors that is powering their production facilities with biogas and is set to install a new energy storage system.

The company's award winning sustainability program is being enhance by the addition of a 600 kW Vandium Redox Battery (VRB™) system installed by Prudent Energy Services Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bethesda, Maryland-based Prudent Energy Corporation. Prudent will build, own and operate the VRB-ESS™ in return for a share of the energy savings resulting from the project. This is the first megawatt-class VRB™ project in California.

The Gills set-up includes an existing Advanced Energy Recovery System (AERS) that turns daily onion waste into biogas that feeds into two 300-kilowatt fuel cells to produce ultra-clean heat and power. Up to 300,000 lb of onion waste (100% of daily waste) is turned into renewable energy and cattle feed with added savings coming from eliminating the costs associated with hauling away onion waste. Prudent's VRB Energy Storage System (VRB-ESS™) will improve the efficiency of the AERS and will also provide emergency backup power and reduce the company's need to draw electricity from the grid when rates are highest.

"We are extremely pleased to host a VRB™ system at Gills as an expansion of our Advanced Energy Recovery System," said Steve Gill, the company's President.  "Energy storage has become an absolutely essential part of integrating renewables into the electricity grid reliably and efficiently, and Prudent Energy's system does this very well.  Prudent has also shown it will stand behind its product and share the financial risk of putting these projects into the field, so their commercial and environmental benefits can be realized as quickly as possible." The VRB-ESS™ will provide clean power on demand for maximum periods of 6 hour, equivalent to 3.6 megawatt-hours of capacity.

Who knew the true power of onions!