Elestor specializes in flow batteries, in their view the cheapest way of storing large amounts of renewable electricity.
The EU recently awarded €4Million to the MELODY consortium, to develop low cost, innovative batteries for large-scale energy storage, as part of the Horizon 2020 program ‘Advanced Redox Flow Batteries for stationary energy storage’. The MELODY consortium consists of small & medium enterprises (Elestor, PV3 Technologies, Vertech), industry (Shell) and academic leaders (TU Delft, Technion, University of Exeter, ETH Zurich), with coordination support provided by Hezelburcht. The collaborative project began in January 2020, and will run for 4 years, leading to a pilot facility that demonstrates the practical application, with each partner bringing required know-how and capabilities to complete the project.
The world’s energy system is in a revolution. Increasingly higher volumes of intermittent generation have made it clear to industry experts that there is a global demand for effective and economically viable energy storage. Since the demand for renewables like wind and solar energy has become global, the demand for storage will also span continents, offering huge opportunities for those companies and countries which can innovate to deliver new kinds of battery storage. MELODY aims to develop a sustainable redox flow battery technology that can effectively reduce the costs of electricity storage to support large-scale, global deployment.
[elestor.nl] – Company site
[elestor.nl] – Elestor teams up with Shell, TUD, ETH, Exeter a.o.
[cordis.europa.eu] – Sustainable battery technology for low-cost energy storage
[deepresource] – Elestor 50 kW Hydrogen-Bromide Flow Battery
[energy-storage.news] – 51MWh vanadium flow battery system ordered for wind farm in northern Japan
New type of ‘flow battery’ can store 10 times the energy of the next best device Industrial-scale batteries, known as flow batteries, could one day usher in widespread use of renewable energy—but only if the devices can store large amounts of energy cheaply and feed it to the grid when the sun isn’t shining and the winds are calm. That’s something conventional flow batteries can…
[wikipedia.org] – Flow battery
Youtube text: “In this video, Stanford graduate student Wesley Zheng demonstrates the new low-cost, long-lived flow battery he helped create. The researchers created this miniature system using simple glassware. Adding a lithium polysulfide solution to the flask immediately produces electricity that lights an LED. A utility version of the new battery would be scaled up to store many megawatt-hours of energy.”
The JV aims to become a global technology leader and champion in the fast-growing utility-scale energy storage segment, supporting the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic diversification objectives. With R&D facilities in Germany and Saudi Arabia, the JV plans to set-up a GW scale manufacturing facility in the Kingdom, expected to be in production in 2021. The JV’s strategy for developing value chain integrated production will allow it to achieve global cost leadership.
[schmid-group.com] – Everflow JV to manufacture Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries (VRFB) in KSA
[pv-magazine.com] – A 3 GWh redox flow battery factory in Saudi Arabia
[wikipedia.org] – Vanadium redox battery
Battery based on iron and salt water, virtually without negative environmental side-effects.
[essinc.com] – ESS Company site
[wikipedia.org] – Flow Battery
[greentechmedia.com] – EFE breakthrough in Iron Flow Tech (150 kW, $300/kWh)
[greentechmedia.com] – UniEnergy Vanadium Flow Battery
[greentechmedia.com] – Imergy Recycled Vanadium for Flow Batteries
[greentechmedia.com] – CellCube Vanadium Flow Battery
[greentechmedia.com] – EnerVault Iron-Chromium Flow Battery
[greentechmedia.com] – Primus Power Zinc-Bromide Flow Battery
Here, we demonstrate an ambient-temperature aqueous rechargeable flow battery that uses low-cost polysulfide anolytes in conjunction with lithium or sodium counter-ions, and an air- or oxygen-breathing cathode. The solution energy density, at 30–145 Wh/L depending on concentration and sulfur speciation range, exceeds current solution-based flow batteries, and the cost of active materials per stored energy is exceptionally low, ∼US$1/kWh when using sodium polysulfide. The projected storage economics parallel those for PHS and CAES but can be realized at higher energy density and with minimal locational constraints.
[cell.com] – Air-Breathing Aqueous Sulfur Flow Battery for Ultralow-Cost Long-Duration Electrical Storage
Cleantechnica.com calls for caution:
[cleantechnica.com] – Sulfur Battery Promises Less Expensive Grid Scale Storage Solution
You can take this story with a grain of salt, literally and figuratively. Researchers at MIT, responding to a challenge issued by the US Department of Energy, have developed a new battery for use by utility companies to store electricity that costs 100 times less than the conventional lithium ion batteries in use today. The new battery uses sulfur, air, water, and salt — all readily available materials that are cheap to buy. The new battery has store twice as much energy as a typical lead acid battery. Their research was published for the first time on October 11 by energy journal Joule… Under the leadership of former Energy Department head Steven Chu, the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research set a goal of reducing grid storage battery costs by a factor of five while increasing energy density also by a factor of five and all within five years… “Through an accidental laboratory discovery, we figured out that it could actually be oxygen, and therefore air. We needed to add one other component, which was a charge carrier to go back and forth between the sulfur and air electrode, and that turned out to be sodium.” The total chemical cost of their proposed battery is roughly $1 per kilowatt-hour. Since all the chemical components of the battery are dissolved in water, the researchers decided to use a flow battery architecture. In a flow battery, a system of pumps and tubes causes the components of the battery to flow past each other, generating chemical reactions that help it capture electrons… The sulfur-oxygen-salt battery under development currently has a useful life of 1500 hours — far less than the 20-year lifespan needed to attract commercial interest in the technology. The researchers have a long way to go yet, but the prospect of ultra low cost grid storage makes their quest worthwhile.
An innovation from Perdue University, Laffayette, USA, could dramatically reduce the time needed to recharge a battery. E-vehicles could enter a charging station en route and recharge in a matter of minutes, like in the petrol car days and as such could significantly lower the acceptation threshold for e-vehicles. Gone would be the necessity of a nation-wide power plug infrastructure in front of every home to recharge the car at night.
Purdue scientist John Cushman presented his findings at the recent International Society for Porous Media 9th International Conference in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Recharging consists of refilling a car with fluid electrolytes, not with electricity kWh’s:
The spent battery fluids or electrolyte could be collected and taken to a solar farm, wind turbine installation or hydroelectric plant for re-charging… Instead of refining petroleum, the refiners would reprocess spent electrolytes and instead of dispensing gas, the fueling stations would dispense a water and ethanol or methanol solution as fluid electrolytes to power vehicles… Other flow batteries exist, but [this is] the first to remove membranes which reduces costs and extends battery life… Membrane fouling can limit the number of recharge cycles and is a known contributor to many battery fires.
[purdue.edu] – ‘Instantly rechargeable’ battery could change the future of electric and hybrid automobiles
CNBC Youtube text:
Over the past decade, prices for solar panels and wind farms have reached all-time lows. However, the price for lithium ion batteries, the leading energy storage technology, has remained too high. So researchers are exploring other alternatives, including flow batteries, thermal batteries, and gravity-based systems.
CORRECTION (March 14, 2020): At 12:53 we incorrectly identify the size of the energy storage market. Overall, the energy storage market is predicted to attract $620 billion dollars in investments by 2040.
The Institute for Renewable Energy Storage of the Technical University of Eindhoven in the Netherlands has received Reversible Large-scale Energy Storage (RELEASE)
Researchers Kitty Nijmeijer, Emiel Hensen and Thijs de Groot of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry are part of the interdisciplinary consortium RELEASE (Reversible Large-Scale Energy Storage), which receives over € 10 million from the Dutch Research Council (NWO) for research into large-scale energy storage. NWO is investing € 39 million in five large, interdisciplinary research consortia within the Crossover programme, with the aim of helping to meet various social and economic challenges.
Improving the performance and reducing the cost of large-scale energy storage is vital for the transition to sustainable energy. RELEASE will work on new technological possibilities for the short (2030) and long term (2050). The project will focus on hydrogen and hydrocarbon production from CO2 and flow batteries.
[tue.nl] – Millions for large-scale energy storage research
[tue.nl] – Our Energy Challenge, Storage and Conversion
[nwo.nl] – Five large interdisciplinary consortia strengthen knowledge and innovation in the Netherlands
Normally we wouldn’t bother with opinions on renewable energy as ventilated by people with a background in anthropology, we’re only interested in opinions by people with a solid background in science and engineering, not people who write books with titles like “The Divide: A Brief Guide to Global Inequality and its Solutions” or “Hierarchy and Value: Comparative Perspectives on Moral Order”. We have burned ourselves in the past by taking too serious people like energy layman Richard Heinberg. We should have known better if we had checked his Wikipedia page first, only to discover that he was the author of “Memories and Visions of Paradise: Exploring the Universal Myth of a Lost Golden Age” or “Celebrate the Solstice: Honoring the Earth’s Seasonal Rhythms through Festival and Ceremony”.
But since it is Foreign Policy that posts these opinions, here a brief discussion anyway. Going through the article, quote by quote.
First note that the article was posted in the Summer of 2019, that is before Corona, that monkey wrench thrown into the global capitalist growth mega-machine and potential renewable energy blessing in disguise.
The gist of his article is that author Jason Hickel supports the renewable energy transition, but that he warns against exaggerated expectations of the inherent potential of the transition. In his view it is not “the sky is the limit” with solar and wind and that there are many restrictions backed into the cake.
While we don’t profess a renewable energy BAU either, continuing as it were where we left off with fossil fuel, he is a little too pessimistic about the potential of renewable energy.
The Dutch startup Elector has built a 50 kW hydrogen-bromide battery in Emmeloord. The technology was developed in the sixties by NASA, the electrolyte hydrogen-bromide is dirt cheap. According to Elestor a storage price of below 5 cent/kWh is possible as of 250 kWh storage capacity. The asymptotic price level is a spectacular 2 cent/kWh, beyond 1,000 kWh storage capacity. This would suggest community storage rather than privately-owned batteries.
[elestor.nl] – Elestor company site
[elestor.nl] – Elestor scientific papers
[wikipedia.org] – Hydrogen bromine battery
[wattisduurzaam.nl] – Doorbraaktechnologie energieopslag schaalt op in Flevoland
What is special about this kind of battery is that the storage cost per kWh decreases with scale:
Article discusses the question whether storage should be part of EROI considerations and calculations. Take-away points:
1. A shift from an electrical system based mostly on energy stocks (with built-in energy storage function) to one based mostly on natural flows (with the construction of storage devices required to ensure large-scale availability) will probably be constrained by the energetic demands of the VRE-storage subsystem. Or in other words, high penetration of VRE will require the large-scale deployment of storage solutions, but there might be biophysical limits to how much storage can be deployed if the energy system is to remain viable.
2. Lithium-ion batteries, which are the fastest growing form of electrical storage today and are increasingly being touted as capable of supporting the energy transition to renewables, could probably only usefully contribute a short-term role to buffering VRE. The energetic productivity/EROI of an energy system reliant on lithium-ion batteries (and other similar electro-chemical storage devices) would indeed rapidly fall below the minimum useful EROI for society. The energetic requirements of pumped hydro storage, on the other hand, are sufficiently low to enable a greater displacement of conventional generation capacity and penetration of VRE, but wide scale deployment is dependent upon regional topography and water availability.
3. Storage technologies that would enable a full displacement of conventional generation capacity and 100% penetration of VRE at the current system reliability level are, as of today, unavailable. New storage solutions may emerge as a result of current and future research activities, but in order to assess their potential it will be necessary evaluate their energetic performances within the VRE-storage subsystem, all along the energy transition pathway. Only if these performances are markedly superior to existing technologies will storage potentially constitute the ‘holy grail’ of the energy transition that many expect.
VRE = Variable Renewable Energy.
EROI/EROEI = Energy Return On (Energy) Investment
[biophyseco.org] – Storage is the ‘Holy Grail’ of the Energy Transition – or is it?
A battery large enough to power a city like Berlin for one hour, in a cavity the size of the Cologne Cathedral. That’s the intention of the planned project by utility company EWE, based in Oldenburg, Germany. The idea is to use space in salt caverns to store a large redox flow battery, resulting in electricity stored in a liquid. The project will be carried out in cooperation with the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena and probably completed by the end of 2023.
Vanadium-based flow battery.
The redox flow battery consists of two different electrolyte fluids. Renewable electricity from solar panels or wind turbines can be used to charge these types of batteries.
The innovation from Jena University is that it is no longer necessary to use a polluting combination of heavy metals like Vanadium dissolved in sulphuric acid. Instead it uses uses recyclable polymers (plastics) dissolved in salt water (brine) as an electrolyte.
You typically are living in a home that has been built years ago, in a time when no energy problems existed. Your energy bills are rising all the time and you have a number of unused square meters on your roof or in your garden and you are thinking how to utilize them. No off-the-shelve solutions are available so you have to come up with something yourself, like all the people showin the videos below have done. No doubt your own collector is going to be different than all the ones presented here. Nevertheless, before you begin designing your own, it is good to pick up ideas and learn from mistakes others have made.