In the heart of Alpine, California, Energy Systems Technologies intern Joseph is playing a crucial role in advancing renewable energy storage solutions.
Joseph is completing a Bachelor’s degree at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. His internship with MFI focuses on the Viejas Long Duration Non-Lithium Battery Energy Storage project. MFI collaborates with Indian Energy LLC, a privately held Native American-owned microgrid developer, and the California Energy Commission.
The project’s goal is to bring more renewable energy storage to transmission grids that will assist California in achieving its climate goals. It will also provide renewable backup power to the Viejas Tribe.
Joseph has been studying information systems at the University of the Western Cape and is learning about the management controls used on the project to integrate battery energy storage with solar energy. This project gives him a deeper understanding of information systems and its application to energy. He explained that South Africa is having a major energy crisis and that they regularly experience power cuts for multiple hours each day. These widespread national blackouts are known as load-shedding.
Joseph hopes to be able to use the Viejas Tribe project as a case study relevant to helping South Africa integrate battery energy storage with solar energy. During the internship, he has developed a deep understanding of long-duration battery energy storage and the economics of energy storage, development, and financing.
The long-duration energy storage project he is researching is on the land of the indigenous Viejas tribe. During his internship, he has had the opportunity to attend Viejas youth events regularly. He has also had the chance to share his South African Khoi-Khoi culture with Viejas tribe families and the other staff involved in the project. “South Africa is very different from what is portrayed in mainstream media,” he explained. Joseph shared that he has enjoyed California so far and has “made a ton of friends”. This summer, he visited the beach often and even had the chance to see a performance of Shakespeare at the Old Globe theater in Balboa Park, San Diego.