ESS is a manufacturer of iron power batteries in the state of Oregon. At present, lithium-ion batteries account for about 85% of grid energy storage. This technology is time-tested and reliable. Prices continue to fall, but lithium-ion batteries have some problems.
They use materials such as lithium, cobalt, manganese, aluminum and nickel, which can be expensive, especially if they are lacking. They can also catch fire and begin to decompose after thousands of charging / discharging cycles. But the biggest problem with lithium-ion batteries is that they can only put stored electricity back into the grid for 2 to 4 hours.
Iron power batteries use three of the most common elements on earth – iron, salt and water. They consist of two storage tanks with a membrane between them. The membrane allows electrons to flow back and forth between the tanks while keeping the liquids separate.
If it sounds easy, it is not. Getting the right mix of iron, salt and water is critical and it is not easy to create a membrane that lasts a long time. But ESS has products ready for use and has just signed an agreement with SB Energy, a division of SoftBank, to supply 2 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of its iron-battery batteries between now and 2026. The first of the batteries will be deployed at. a photovoltaic plant in Davis, California this month.
In a press release, Rich Hossfeld of SB Energy states, “ESS ‘unique ability to produce and ship batteries using iron, salt and water is a game-changer that enables SB Energy to offer our customers a safe, sustainable and cheap energy storage today. Long-term storage is absolutely crucial for delivering flexible and affordable renewable energy on a large scale and is in perfect agreement with the Biden administration’s ambitious initiatives for clean energy. SB Energy is excited to continue its partnership with ESS and implement the company’s home-produced batteries in the large and rapidly growing market for energy storage. ”
Eric Dresselhuys, CEO of ESS CEO, agrees. “This agreement is an example of the accelerating demand for long-term energy storage and strengthens our strong partnership with SB Energy to deliver safe and sustainable technology built in the United States. The energy transition will require huge amounts of storage capacity in the coming years, and we are focused on scaling up our production capacity to help meet that demand. We are fortunate to have such great partners as SB Energy and Breakthrough Energy Ventures and look forward to a long and extended partnership. ”
Dresselhuys adds: “This deal is really the culmination of many years of work to show that there is a better mousetrap out there that solves more problems and is better at where the web goes. Once people have seen that we have been researched and tested and approved by partners like SB, it gives great confidence. ”
ESS claims that its power batteries last for more than 20,000 charging / discharging cycles and can supply energy for up to 12 hours. In addition, they have an expected lifespan of 25 years and can be easily reused when their lifespan is over. The company says it uses the same electrolyte on both the negative and positive sides of the equation, eliminating cross-contamination and degradation that shortens the life of other power batteries.
“Our patented electrode design and control system, combined with our simple yet elegant electrochemistry, allows you to operate longer, at higher efficiency and deeper discharge levels. Unlike typical batteries packaged as solid cells or modules, a flow battery has significantly more energy storage capacity, giving the user the flexibility to tailor both power and amount of electricity stored precisely to a project’s requirements today and for the future. ”
In addition to the agreement with SB Energy, ESS has also been used by Enel to supply 17 of its containers in Energy Warehouse battery systems with a total capacity of 8.5 megawatts (MWh) for photovoltaic systems in Spain.
Time lag is the operational concept when it comes to energy storage. Some people like to play in the stands and suggest complacently that the wind does not always blow and the sun does not always shine, and therefore we need to keep thermal and nuclear power plants in operation. But the blatter misses the point.
As MIT noted in 2011, “The sunlight that reaches the Earth every day dwarfs all of the planet’s other energy sources. This solar energy is clearly sufficient in scope to cover all of humanity’s energy needs — if it can be harnessed and stored in a cost-effective manner. “That says about 173,000 terawatts of solar energy hits the Earth every day – 10,000 times more energy than necessary to meet the energy needs of all mankind. And it is for free, people! All we have to do is figure out how to harvest it, store it and distribute it. This is where time lag comes in. Generate it now, save it and use it later when the sun is above the horizon.
No one suggests that ESS iron batteries are the only solution for energy storage, but at an expected price of around $ 25 per tonne. Kilowatt hour, they should clearly be part of the mix of available energy storage technologies.
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