With fast-growing demand for both large scale and distributed battery storage, Australia could be home to both battery assembly and cell production facilities within 12 months. A plan by UGL-backed Energy Renaissance to establish a lithium-ion (Li-ion) cell and module line now has a clear technology roadmap.
It was announced overnight that Energy Renaissance has entered into a licensing agreement with Cadenza Innovation to utilize the American company’s battery technology. The companies report that the Cadenza technology will allow Energy Renaissance to produce “commercial-scale, high value, reliable and safe energy storage systems [that have been] specifically designed for hot and humid climates.”
Energy Renaissance has not yet announced the location for its cell and module facility, however a spokesperson said that a decision “should not be too far away.” It is considering both Darwin and regional New South Wales as potential sites.
The Australian battery manufacturing startup is looking to produce utility scale battery storage systems, and also supply ‘specialised EV’ producers. It is looking primarily to supply the Australian and Southeast Asian markets.
Cadenza Innovation claims that its Li-ion technology delivers high energy density, low cost, and safe battery cells. The company has developed a method for producing longer and wider cylindrical ‘jelly-roll’ batteries, when compared to 18650 jelly-roll batteries – such as those used in Tesla Model S and Model X EVs.
The Connecticut-based Li-ion developer houses its batteries in a non-combustible ceramic fibre housing, which it says provides sufficient thermal isolation for the larger jelly-roll batteries in a closely packed configuration. Cadenza says its housing material is “novel and proprietary”.
A spokesperson for Energy Renaissance told pv magazine Australia that it selected the Cadenza technology for its safety attributes and its maturity. “Cadenza is using proven technology, so they have the best safety record, which is really important for Australian standards. They use existing supply lines for the raw materials… so can go to market quickly.”
Energy Renaissance is privately funded and looking to raise additional seed funding for the design phase of its manufacturing project. It will then have to raise the significant capital required for an eventual 1.3 GWh production facility.
Austrade recently released its Lithium-Ion Battery Value Chain: New Economy Opportunities for Australia report which found that Australia has known mineral reserves accounting for 90% of the elements required for Li-ion battery production. Annual tax offsets of up to $200,000 is being offered to investors in lithium-ion battery production, and a 10-year capital gains exemption for investments held for at least a year.
“Our mission when we founded the business was to shake up manufacturing,” said the Energy Renaissance spokesperson. “For us that needs to be high tech manufacturing, and we do have the resources here, we do have the people here ready to fill the jobs, the raw materials, and because it is advanced manufacturing it is not labour intensive so we can compete.”
In a statement announcing the Cadenza licensing agreement, Energy Renaissance Chair Su McCluskey said that Australia has “all the resources needed” to supply its fast-emerging battery storage market. “With rapidly expanding end markets ranging from utilities, transportation and industrials to stand-alone solutions for remote areas, the time is now for our country and our company to step up to this massive, immediate opportunity,” said McCluskey in a statement.
“Today, there is an insatiable need for reliable batteries to facilitate renewable energy from solar, wind and hydro as well as for enabling better efficiency for traditional energy sources,” said Cadenza Innovation founder and CEO Christina Lampe-Onnerud. “Energy Renaissance is moving aggressively to address those requirements in a country that is proving itself a global leader in this transition. We’re excited to play a key role in those efforts.”
Mark Chilcote is Energy Renaissance’s Managing Director, having joined the startup in late 2017. Chilcote formerly led UGL’s Engineering and Construction business and has previously been the GM of Leighton Contractors Industrial and Energy Division. He has also worked for Victoria’s State Electricity Commission and ABB.
Sonnen is well ahead of Energy Renaissance in the race to establish battery production in Australia. However, the sonnen production facility in South Australia is a battery assembly line, with the cells being imported from Asia. Sonnen, recently acquired by Shell, announced that production had begun at its Australian facility in November 2018.
China’s Alpha-ESS and Eguana Technologies, from Canada, have both announced plans to assemble residential battery storage units in South Australia – primarily to qualify for and supply the state’s Home Battery Scheme.