Energy Vault, an Idealab company, has unveiled its groundbreaking energy storage solution. Based on the principles that underpin traditional gravity-based pumped hydro plants, the new technology combines conventional physics fundamentals of potential and kinetic energy with a proprietary, cloud-based software platform to operate a newly developed six-arm crane. The crane operation is fully automated and orchestrates the positioning of massive concrete bricks that provide the basis for the efficient storage and discharge of electricity.
Courtesy of Energy Vault
The innovative use of low cost and environmentally-friendly concrete materials made from waste debris enables the Energy Vault system to achieve lower cost per kilowatt-hour and high round trip efficiency while delivering a 30-40 year life without any degradation in storage capacity.
The company also announced an agreement with Tata Power Company, India’s largest integrated power company, to deploy an initial 35 MWh Energy Vault system with deployment expected in 2019.
In addition, the company announced a technology and commercial partnership with CEMEX Research Group AG, a Swiss subsidiary of Mexico-based CEMEX, that will focus on material applications which include the optimization of various concrete based composite materials that will support Energy Vault’s system deployments globally.
Energy Vault’s technology was inspired by pumped hydro plants that rely on the power of gravity and the movement of water to store and discharge electricity. The company’s solution is based on the same well-understood fundamentals used in those plants, but replaces the water with custom made concrete bricks through an innovative use of low-cost materials. The large bricks are combined with Energy Vault’s patented system design and proprietary algorithm-based software, which calibrates the energy storage and subsequent electricity discharge while accounting for a variety of factors, including power supply, energy demand volatility, and weather. As a result, the company can deliver all the benefits of a pumped hydro system, but at a much lower price, higher roundtrip efficiency and without the requirement for specific land topography and negative environmental or wildlife impacts.
Further bolstering its eco-friendly advantages is the fact that Energy Vault’s storage conduit – the large concrete bricks – do not degrade over time and therefore eliminate the need for replacement equipment. The company anticipates future systems will roughly double the amount of MWh energy storage capacity and peak power discharge while continuing to significantly reduce the cost.
Energy Vault’s system was developed to be suitable for both “in front of the meter” and “behind the meter” applications. It can also be paired with renewable generation like solar PV for offgrid and microgrid solutions, allowing commercial and industrial customers to maximize their renewable power usage.
“The world needs rapidly scalable and sustainable energy storage solutions to meet one of the most urgent challenges – the need to decarbonize our energy generation – and we’re thrilled to launch Energy Vault’s unique technology to help solve this problem,” said Robert Piconi, chief executive officer and co-founder, Energy Vault.
Energy Vault’s new technology collaboration and development agreement with CEMEX Research Group AG will enable joint technology teams to focus on material applications which include the optimization of various concrete and soil composite materials that form an integral part of Energy Vault’s storage solution. The collaboration also includes a focus on carbon and CO2 reduction methodologies given the role that utility-scale energy storage will now play in enabling various renewable energy technologies.
“Energy Vault’s team has developed a disruptive platform, and we are enthusiastic to work with their team to deploy an environmentally efficient and cost-effective energy storage solution that is highly viable,” said Dr. Davide Zampini, Head of CEMEX Global R&D and IP.
“We share a common commitment to enable a future where resources are used responsibly, which is paramount to CEMEX’s strategy for sustainable development.”