Observing the renewable energy transition from a European perspective

Archive for the category “storage”

Heat Battery

onderzoeksreactor voor energie-opslag mbt “zout”, samenwerkingsverband TNO, TU/e (Pim Donkers) en andere partijen

A research team around prof. Olaf Adan of the Technical University of Eindhoven in the Netherlands and other parties are developing a heat battery for use in private households. The developers claim that the thermochemical battery is loss free. The medium is a stabilized salt hydrate and water vapor. The storage cycle consists of moistening and drying of salt. The heat you put in, will eventually get out again without losses. Input sources can be both thermal or electric. Wind turbines, solar panels or solar collectors, anything goes. The required size for a heat battery that works for two weeks is modest. Think the size of a washing machine with a few hundreds of kilos of salt for a four-person household. This technology can be perfectly combined with a heat pump, that can be smaller in size and cheaper. Rough storage cost estimate: 10 euro/MJ, 10-15 times cheaper than storing the same energy amount in electricity. Real life testing is planned for 2022 in the Netherlands, France and Poland.

[] – Is our heat battery really loss free? (The answer is yes)
[] – Miljoenensubsidie EU voor innovatieve warmtebatterij
[] – Heat Battery

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Northvolt Plans to Build 2 Battery Factories

Swedish company Northvolt plans to build the large battery factories, one in Skellefteå, Sweden and the other in Salzgitter, Germany. Investment volume $3 billion. Annual production capacity 150 GWh in 10 years time or 20-25% of the European lithium-ion market. 85% of that market will be vehicles, the other 15% stationary applications. Northvolt also wants to enter in recycling and hopes to source 50% of its material input from used batteries. Production in Sweden could begin next year.

[] – Northvolt: $3 Billion For 2 Battery Gigafactories In Europe
[] – Company site
[] – Northvolt

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Elestor Flow Batteries Presentation

December 2018.

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.

[] – Company site
[] – Elestor teams up with Shell, TUD, ETH, Exeter a.o.
[] – Sustainable battery technology for low-cost energy storage
[deepresource] – Elestor 50 kW Hydrogen-Bromide Flow Battery

[] – 51MWh vanadium flow battery system ordered for wind farm in northern Japan

Significant Lithium Reserves In European Groundwater


The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany (KIT) surprised with their announcement that Germany has sufficient lithium reserves in their ground water in geothermal plants, sufficient for its own industrial needs and are easy minable. Bye-bye South-America. Location: upper-Rhine trench, separating France and Germany. Contents up to 200 mg per liter. The KIT filed for a patent. In Germany the lithium can be extracted within hours, where in South-America it can last months. Additional potential products from geothermal water are rubidium and cesium. Hundreds of tons of lithium can be harvested per geothermal plant per year.

A small prototype installation is currently under development in the kilo range of lithium carbonate. If the tests are successful, a larger plant could be build.

[] – New Process Enables Lithium Mining in Germany
[] – European partnership targets ‘Zero Carbon Lithium’ extraction in Germany

UPDATE 04 AUG 2020:

[] – Vulcan Is A Step Closer To Net-Zero-Carbon Lithium Production

Fun fact: the energy required for direct lithium extraction from the brine is sourced from the hot brine itself, so, in a certain sense, the process is carbon-negative.

[] – Overview of Direct Lithium Extraction (DLE) from Geothermal Brines
[] – Environmentally friendly direct lithium extraction from geothermal
[] – Direct lithium extraction processes (15 slides)

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4GW Renewable Storage Project in Saudi-Arabia


The Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia has given the green light to a huge renewable energy storage project. Price tag: $5B. Location: NEOM (NW KSA). NEOM intends to become a global hydrogen hub, well, in the form of ammonia (NH3). Input: 4GW from solar and wind. Production: 650 tons H2 per day through electrolysis (Thyssen-Krupp technology, Germany). Nitrogen (N2) will be produced from air using Air Products technology (USA), resulting in 1.2 million tons/year of green ammonia (NH3) using Haldor Topsoe technology (Denmark). The project is scheduled to become on-line in 2025.

[] – $5bn deal sealed for green hydrogen-based ammonia production facility in NEOM
[] – World’s largest green hydrogen project will convert renewable energy to ammonia then back to hydrogen
[deepresource] – Ammonia posts

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World’s Biggest Liquid Air Battery in the UK

By 2022 UK’s Highview Power hopes to complete the construction of the world’s largest liquid air battery, with a storage capacity of up to 250 MWh. Price tag: € 94 mln. Expected lifetime: 30-40 years. Boiling point air: -192 C°. Cryogenic storage of liquefied gasses is mature, proven technology and so is recovering electricity from expanding air in turbines. Round-trip efficiency is between batteries and hydrogen. Technology bottleneck: low temperature of the expanding air, which freezes the turbines. To solve that problem, residual heat is required from an external industrial source. The company claims a stand-alone efficiency of 60% or 70% with a free additional source of waste heat.

[] – Project site
[] – construction begins on world’s biggest liquid air battery

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Stand Alone Solar Water Splitting


The current favored approach to large-scale storing of renewable electricity is feeding the electric energy to a separate electrolyzer. There are however photoelectrochemical (PEC) hydrogen generation technologies, that convert solar radiation into hydrogen in a more direct fashion.

[] – Photoelectrochemical Water Splitting
[] – Israeli team develops decoupled PEC water-splitting
[] – Photoelectrochemical cell
[] – Artificial Leaf Breathes Down Neck Of Electrolysis

Car Batteries Can Burn

[] – Plug-in electric vehicle fire incidents

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Mercedes Battery Production Featuring Kamenz Germany

[] – Mercedes-Benz Increasing Battery Production In Kamenz, Germany

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Nel Hydrogen Announces $350/kW Electrolyser

Bye-bye Royal Dutch Shell, Total, BP, Exxon and what have you. Nel Hydrogen has just sold 5 x 17 = 85 MW worth of electrolysers to US truck startup Nikola Motors for ca. $30 million.

PHOENIX (JUNE 3, 2020) — Nikola Corporation who becomes publicly traded on June 4, 2020 on the Nasdaq (NKLA), signed a purchase order with Nel ASA (Nel, OSE: NEL), for 85-megawatt alkaline electrolyzers supporting five of the world’s first 8 ton per day hydrogen fueling stations. Together, these electrolyzers may produce over 40,000 kgs of hydrogen each day.

The purchase order has a value in excess of USD $30 million, and the electrolyzers will primarily be delivered from the new electrolyzer mega-factory currently under development in Norway. This purchase order will support Nikola’s five initial stations with 8 ton per day hydrogen production capacity. The remaining equipment will be covered by a separate purchase order that is expected to be finalized within the coming months.

That phrase “in excess of” is a little puzzling, but if we assume that “in excess of” does NOT stand for “excessively over”, we may tentatively conclude that the electrolysers will change owner for the tip of somewhere near $30M/85MW = $350/kW! So far, the electrolyser price was in the range of $1000-1500/kW.

If this turns out to be true, the price of green hydrogen will be largely determined by the price of renewable electricity and not so much by the cost of conversion of electricity into hydrogen. It means that the renewable energy storage problem would be solved and that governments in North-Africa or the Gulf region could begin to contemplate combining their cheap labor, 1-2 cent/kWh desert solar and $350/kW electrolyser technology in order to touch serious money after the end of the oil age.

One can doubt if this news will be greeted in the HQs of Tesla and Volkswagen, companies that have placed their bets heavily on battery cars. The big winner could be Japan.

Regardless, this is hardly the time to buy a new gasoline car. Combine the above with the storage of hydrogen in Borohydride (“H2Fuel”), a storage technology currently under development in the Netherlands and in ten years time you will be fueling your car in 3 minutes with a yogurt-like substance and you’re good for yet another 1000 miles, without the necessity to daily fight with your neighbors over who can use the charging station. Additionally, “shameless” electric flying, based on a fuel cell, will become possible with Borohydride, that has an energy density of 9 kWh/kg.

[] – Nel ASA: Receives purchase order from Nikola
[] – Nikola Orders Enough Electrolysis Equipment From Nel to Produce 40 Ton Hydrogen/Day
[] – Renewable Hydrogen Out-competing Fossil Alternatives
[] – Japan Is Betting Big On The Future Of Hydrogen Cars
[deepresource] – H2Fuel

Nel Hydrogen suggest a price potential of below $350/kW in a set of Powerpoints, that has a “2019” smell about it. Apparently that boundary has been broken in 2020.


De stichting Natuur & Milieu heeft een rangorde oppgesteld van zinvolle toepassingen van groene waterstof.

[] – Waterstofladder
[] – Waterstofladder als input voor Regionale Energie-Strategieën
[] – Natuur & milieu project site
[] – Natuur & Milieu

Carnot Battery

According to Robert Laughlin (Stanford University), winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics, power-heat-power storage units (known as Carnot batteries) will be the key technology for storing large quantities of energy in a carbon-neutral energy system of the future. In a Carnot battery, energy is converted into heat at a temperature between 90°C and 500°C by using a high-temperature heat pump. This heat is stored inexpensively in water (90°C) or molten salt (500°C) and reconverted into energy through a thermal power process, when required. A valuable added beneft of Carnot batteries is their ability to supply heat and cooling in addition to stored energy.

[] – Carnot batteries – Low-cost and location-independent energy storage in the gigawatt hour range
[] – Carnot Batteries
[] – 2nd International Workshop on Carnot Batteries 2020

Joint Venture ITM & Linde

ITM-UK is good at producing hydrogen through electrolysis of water, where Linde, a company of German origin, is an expert in handling industrial gasses. For the developing hydrogen economy this seems to be a match made in heaven.

[] – Incorporation of ITM Linde Electrolysis GmbH
[] – Linde plc

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Gasunie & ITM Realize 1 MW Hydrogen Unit in Groningen

Project name: HyStock
Energy input: 3600 solar panels
Google Maps: location aardgasbuffer Zuidwending

[] – HyStock
[] – Koning opent fabriek voor groene waterstof in Groningen

  • As a next step, Gasunie and Engie will investigate the feasibility of a 100 MW installation.
  • Parallel, Gasunie is in talks with Nouryon for a similar project.
  • Innogy and RWE have also announced that they want to build a 100 MW hydrogen plant in Groningen.

The Effectiveness of Industrial Electricity Demand Management

The supply of renewable electricity is intermittent. One way to cope with that is electricity storage, in batteries, pumped hydro, pressured air, hydrogen or some other chemical. A different approach is adapting demand to varying supply. That is what German aluminium producer Trimet accomplished. Aluminium production is a relative simple process, where aluminium-oxide (bauxite) is reduced to aluminium in an electrolysis process, which requires about 17 kWh per kilo aluminium. Aluminium is very abundant in the earth’s crust (8%) and useful material in engineering.

“We have reinvented the electrolysis process for the production of aluminium. For the first time, we will be able to vary the energy supply during operation significantly… With the conversion of a total of 120 furnaces in hall one of the Essen plant, 25 percent more or 25 percent less electricity can be consumed for up to 48 hours without interrupting aluminium production. The energy requirement can also be reduced to zero for up to an hour, if necessary. This means up to 2,000 megawatt hours of electricity can be stored for use in the energy revolution. The “virtual battery” thus has the capacity of a medium-sized pumped storage facility.

A 6 MW offshore wind turbine can produce 1 kg aluminium with merely 2 rotations of its rotor or 12 seconds. Few industrial processes are so qualified to be powered by renewable electricity as aluminium production.

[] – Energy revolution: TRIMET starts trial operation of its “virtual battery”
[] – Trimet Aluminium
[] – Bauxite
[] – Aluminium
[] – Aluminium production

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Tesla About to Announce $80/kWh Battery Technology?

[source] Tesla Model S 100 kWh battery

According to Reuters, insiders have revealed that later this month, Tesla will present breakthrough battery technology, giving the company a huge technological advantage to the competition. Expect a one million mile plus cheap battery, that after a life of mobility could have a second lease to life as grid storage support. As a consequence e-driving will become cheaper than fossil mobility (what’s in a name?).

The cost of CATL’s cobalt-free lithium iron phosphate battery packs has fallen below $80 per kilowatt-hour, with the cost of the battery cells dropping below $60/kWh, the sources said. CATL’s low-cobalt NMC battery packs are close to $100/kWh. Auto industry executives have said $100/kWh for battery packs is the level at which electric vehicles reach rough parity with internal combustion competitors.

[] – Exclusive: Tesla’s secret batteries aim to rework the math for electric cars and the grid

Nevada Lithium Valley?

Tesla gets most of the lithium of its batteries from far-away places like South-America and Australia. Now the prospect rises for Tesla to source the required lithium from a nearby source in Nevada, dubbed by some as “Nevada Lithium Valley”. Projected capacity: 60,000 tonnes per annum battery grade lithium-carbonate at a mine life of 46 years.

[] – Is a Proposed Lithium Mine the Future of Renewable Energy?
[] – Giga Nevada
[] – The Impacts of Thacker Pass Mine
[Google Maps] – Thacker Pass lithium mine
[] – Thacker Pass

Tesla Giga Factory 1 is a lithium-ion battery and electric vehicle subassembly factory near Sparks, Nevada. Started limited production in 2016 of Powerwalls.

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3 GWh Redox-Flow Battery Plant Planned for Saudi-Arabia

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.

[] – Everflow JV to manufacture Vanadium Redox Flow Batteries (VRFB) in KSA
[] – A 3 GWh redox flow battery factory in Saudi Arabia
[] – Vanadium redox battery

Elestor 50 kW Hydrogen-Bromide Flow Battery

The 2014 start-up Elestor hydrogen bromide (H-Br) flow battery is a fuel-cell and electrolyser at the same time.


– low cost/kWh. The larger the volume, the lower the cost.
– hardly any internal leaking. The charge is kept for an extremely long time
– power and capacity are decoupled. You can pick any desired kW/kWh-combination, depending on application
– long life-time. 10,000+ charge cycles have been demonstrated
– no long-term degradation battery


– lower energy density as Li-Ion (container for 50 kW)
– lower power density 0.8 Watts/cm3
– hydrogen-bromide is a dangerous substance

This flow battery is therefore not suitable for transport options.

Summary: very low cost, very reliable, bulky. Typical application: shabby gated industrial terrain, a lot of solar panels on the roof and a container-sized battery to guarantee 24 hours supply of electricity (provided the sun shines). The real upshot is that a mid-sized company or municipal area can consume all the kWh’s it generated with its own solar panels, for the time that feed-in tariffs will be a thing of the past.

After years of testing, Elestor has developed a 50 kW prototype that is ready for prime-time. First placing at the municipal warf of Emmeloord, 3 others in Duiven-NL near PV-park Gansenwoirt in Duiven begin 2019 and 2 systems in Germany, Essen and Mönchengladbach.

[] – Hydrogen bromide
[] – Hydrogen bromine battery
[] – Elestor company site

[] – MEGAWATerstof bromide flow BATTERIJ

Dutch government sponsored feasibility study for a 25 MW, 250 MWh battery, after building a 500 kW, 2.5 MWh pilot first (Q2-2020) for the company Vopak, specialized in storing and handling various oil, chemicals, edible oils and natural gas-related products. Expected storage cost for 25 MW, 250 MWh: €200/kWh. Li-Ion would be three times as expensive.

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Battolyser or Edison Battery or Nickel-Iron Battery

The battolyser combines the functionalities of a battery as well as an electrolyser. With the device you can both store electricity as well as produce hydrogen with electricity. The device consists of nickel and iron electrodes with the electrolyte KOH in the middle, resulting in an extremely robust battery. Batteries from the days of Edison still work. The components are cheap and abundant. The storage efficiency is 90%. The battery was an invention of the illustrious Thomas Edison, but the observed hydrogen production was at the time seen as a nuisance.

[source] Battolyser process scheme

Not so by the engineers Fokko Mulder en Bernhard Weninger of the TU Delft in the Netherlands, who in 2016 redesigned the device that combined both functionalities:

Conveniently, the hydrogen production only starts when the battery is fully charged first. So the most efficient storage option is exhausted first, before the storage option of second choice kicks in. The electrolysis process also has an efficiency of 90%.

The latest development is that a battolyser of 60 kWh/15 kW capacity, having the size of “a freezer”, has been installed and integrated with the Magnum power station in Eemshaven in the Netherlands, as a demonstration project. Later the hydrogen will be used to fuel one of the retrofitted, originally natural gas-fired blocks. In other words, the battolyser is tested to see if it can compete or even replace the standard electrolyser. If all goes well, a 1-10 MW battolyser will be next, a device with the size of a sea-container.

[] – Battolyser: elektriciteitopslag en waterstofproductie
[] – De Battolyser van de TU Delft
[] – Battolyser project site
[] – Nickel–iron battery (Edison battery, Battolyser)
[deepresource] – Battolyser – 90% Storage Efficiency With Combining Batteries and Electrolysis

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