Energy Vault develops 2GWh gravity storage solution for Chinese industrial parks

Energy Vault develops 2GWh gravity storage solution for Chinese industrial parks
Courtesy 123rf

Swiss-based Energy Vault, which develops grid-scale energy storage solutions, is developing a 2GWh gravity energy storage project alongside deployment of their Energy Resiliency Centers (ERCs) for China’s zero carbon industrial parks.

Deployment of the EVx gravity energy storage technology is being coordinated in partnership with tech investment company Atlas Renewable, EIPC (a policy oriented NGO of the Investment Association of China), alongside environmental services firm China Tianying (CNTY) and selected provincial and local governments.

Gravity solutions and ERCs

According to Energy Vault, their gravity-based solutions are based on the physics and mechanical engineering fundamentals of pumped hydroelectric energy storage (PHS).

However, it replaces water with custom-made composite blocks, or “mobile masses”, that can be made from local soil, mine tailings, coal combustion residuals (coal ash) and end-of-life decommissioned wind turbine blades.

It aims to incorporate a modular and flexible building design not limited to the geological constraints of PHS plants. 

The company further cites how the solution applies the principles of gravity and potential energy, combining materials science and machine-vision software to autonomously orchestrate the charge, storage and discharge of electricity in grid-scale applications.

The EVx is also used as a “building block” for the company’s ERCs, which – according to Energy Vault – consist of scalable and modular system architecture built to scale to manage energy disruptive climate events such as wildfire or extreme weather.

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Energy Vault Commissioning

The commissioning comes in months after Energy Vault and Atlas Renewable signed a licensing and royalty agreement in February this year for the deployment of the tech in China, which followed a $50 million equity investment.

The companies then commenced construction of a first 25MW/100MWh system outside Shanghai in the province of Rudong, which broke ground in March 2022 earlier this year.

Robert Piconi, chairman and chief executive officer, Energy Vault stated: “Together with Atlas Renewable, CNTY and the EIPC, we are making significant progress ahead of our original plans on the deployment of the first 100MWh EVx system to support grid resiliency and delivery of renewable energy to the Chinese national grid, as well as additional development and deployment of additional EVx systems in China as this announcement demonstrates.”

Atlas Renewable, CEO Eric Fang added: “China understands that its investment in producing renewable power must be balanced with the ongoing costs of producing that power and the critical need to store renewable power.

“Losing electrical power between production and consumption represents the fundamental challenge to address: estimates range from 6-10% national power loss in transmission and competition to access the grid. Energy Vault solves several critical issues in electrical power management by utilising its gravity storage technology along with its AI software orchestration solutions that help with economic dispatching of power and power grid efficiency.”

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Storage amid potential crisis

Additionally, the storage solution and ERCs, which are cited by the company for their capability to manage energy disruptive climate events such as wildfire or extreme weather, are being deployed weeks after the country experienced record-breaking heat waves and a looming energy crisis.

According to the Guardian, although the country’s worst heat wave to date has been somewhat mitigated by much-needed rain, the consequences will potentially rear their heads in the country’s energy management.

The resulting demand for energy, after millions turned to air conditioning, led to severe power shortages across cities and provinces. Authorities suspended or rationed electricity supply to factories, shopping malls, high-rises and public transport.

As demand for energy rises and a potential crisis looms; the introduction of gravity storage at scale for industrial parks will hopefully yield some much-needed grid congestion-related rewards.