The world’s biggest oil and gas company has taken a stake in Swiss energy storage company Energy Vault, allowing it to accelerate the deployment of its “gigawatt scale” storage that can support large scale wind and solar.
Energy Vault’s new energy storage technology was inspired by pumped hydro plants that rely on the power of gravity and the movement of water to store and discharge electricity.
However, instead of using water, Energy Vault designed custom-made composite blocks and combined them with a proprietary system design and machine vision, AI-enabled software.
The result is the operation of a specially designed crane which uses proprietary technology to autonomously orchestrate the lifting and lowering of the blocks, which enables storage of potential energy at height and then discharged electricity as the blocks are lowered.
The technology relies on custom-made composite blocks that are made from locally sourced soil, sand, or waste materials – such as the output of fossil fuel production, including coal combustion residuals, and end of life energy components, such as wind turbine blades.
“Energy Vault has made rapid and meaningful progress over the last 12-18 months as we completed the first commercial scale deployment of our technology and we are pleased to have SAEV’s support as a strategic partner,” said Robert Piconi, CEO and Co-Founder, Energy Vault.
Energy Vault’s first 5MW/35MWh commercial scale system achieved mechanical completion in July 2020 at the same time as it was connected to Switzerland’s national utility grid.
It has created a modular platform called EVx that can building out storage architecture in 10MWh increments and which can scale up to multi-gigawatt-hour storage capacity.
EVx also offers incredible duration flexibility allowing deployment for both high power/shorter duration needs in the 2 to 6 hour range, up to longer duration storage applications in the 6 to 12 hour range.
The new EVx platform has also been compressed and is now 40% lower in height while utilising the same composite blocks that are made from waste materials.
“Our mission at SAEV is to invest in companies developing technologies with strategic importance to Aramco,” said Mahdi Aladel, CEO of Aramco Ventures, a subsidiary of Saudi Aramo.
“Energy Vault’s innovative energy storage technology has unique environmental and economic benefits. We are excited to help Energy Vault further accelerate the global deployment of its technology.”
Joshua S. Hill is a Melbourne-based journalist who has been writing about climate change, clean technology, and electric vehicles for over 15 years. He has been reporting on electric vehicles and clean technologies for Renew Economy and The Driven since 2012. His preferred mode of transport is his feet.