Swiss energy storage innovator Energy Vault says it has begun construction of its first commercial scale gravity-based energy storage system, a 100MWh facility located in Jiangsu Province outside of Shanghai in China.
The Energy Vault Resiliency Center will be built next to a wind farm in Rudong and deploy its gravity-based EVx energy storage system to store and provide renewable energy to the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), the world’s largest utility.
While gravity-based storage is not a completely new technology – it is the foundation of pumped hydro storage – Energy Vault is hailing its technology as a potential game-changer.
Instead of using water, Energy Vault proposes custom-made composite blocks – each of which can be made using a range of materials, providing a long-term recycling solution for wind turbines blades or coal combustion residuals (coal ash), mine tailings, and local soil.
The 30-tonne composite blocks are elevated (charged) into an elevated position, where they are then stored, and when energy is needed kinetic energy is released back to the grid via a controlled lowering of the bricks under gravitational force.
It can be built in 10MWh increments that can scale to multi-gigawatt-hour storage capacity, the Energy Vault technology uses electricity – for example, on-site or adjacent renewable energy generation, or off-peak clean electricity – to lift the blocks.
“Our first commercial EVx™ deployment in China is a significant milestone for Energy Vault and for the People’s Republic of China as it pursues its decarbonization goals,” said Robert Piconi, chairman, co-founder, and CEO of Energy Vault.
“China is rapidly expanding its use of renewable energy coupled with annual energy storage mandates in order to meet its decarbonization goals.”
The company described the project as a “world first”, and the $US50 million contract with Atlas Renewable and China Tianying was first inked earlier this year.
Energy Vault has already built a pilot demonstration of its EV1 tower technology in Switzerlandand has signed numerous MoUs with parties including Australian resources giant BHP., Townsville-based zinc refiner Sun Metals and many others.
There was no indication from the release on when construction is expected to be completed and operations to begin. Energy Vault was founded in 2017 and listed in the US in February.
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.