From pv magazine India
Indian utility NTPC Ltd. wants to deploy Switzerland-based Energy Vault’s EVx gravity-based energy storage technology and software solutions to support its clean energy initiatives.
The two parties recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to forge a long-term strategic partnership. NTPC will deploy Energy Vault’s EVx gravity-based energy storage technology and software solutions based on the outcome of a joint feasibility study.
Energy Vault’s EVx storage system is comparable to pumped hydro, using grid-scale renewable energy when supply is abundant to drive motors and raise 30-ton blocks on a six-arm crane tower, rather than water, up to a height. When power needs to be discharged back to the grid, the blocks are lowered, harvesting the kinetic energy.
The NTPC and Energy Vault collaboration will also see the beneficial use of coal ash to manufacture composite blocks for Energy Vault’s gravity-based energy storage system.
“Energy Vault’s mission is to make sustainable, carbon-free energy a reality, and this announcement marks further advancement towards that goal with the expansion into one of the largest global markets for energy,” Robert Piconi, the chairman, co-founder and CEO of Energy Vault. “Our collaboration with NTPC builds upon previously announced commercial expansions across multiple continents as we transitioned to a public company earlier this year.”
Author: Uma Gupta
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I’ve seen arguments that cast doubt on this technology.
Do you have any independent evidence that this technology is feasible?
Hi John, firstly apologies about the delay in getting back to your comment – I wanted to watch the video before writing back. It raises some interesting points about wind and how Energy Vault’s technology will operate during windy periods. I do however think the ‘why haven’t they built a proper pilot’ criticism is somewhat unfair as nothing new gets built without first campaigning for the idea. Also the company has done a fair bit since that video was made in 2019 (see:https://www.pv-magazine.com/?s=energy+vault). Moreover, the argument ‘if it’s so good, why haven’t we done it before’ is simply that there were no serious markets for storage before because we don’t need them in a system that runs on burning coal and fossil fuels. Moving away from fossil-based systems though opens up needs that were previously unmet. Personally, I don’t love the idea of storing all our variable renewable energy from solar and wind in giant batteries because that involves a lot of mining and toxicity and I think if real sustainability is our end goal, we should be looking for the least harmful ways to live on the earth rather than the most immediately convenient. That’s just my personal view, but I think that gravity-based storage is an interesting proposition viewed from that lens.
The video also suggested we should simply do pumped hydro, which again I don’t think is entirely fair. Pumped hydro definitely has a place, but damming areas has serious environmental impacts and it simply isn’t appropriate in a lot of places. Moreover, pumped hydro projects (as we’ve seen from Snowy 2.0) are expensive and take a long long time to build. Gravitational storage like that proposed by Energy Vault is I think trying to be complementary to pumped hydro rather than trying to replace it. I also don’t believe that Energy Vault is looking to make their bricks from ‘virgin’ concrete, so I’m not sure the argument about the emissions from that stands. There are now a lot of companies on the gravity energy scene, like Green Gravity in Australia which is proposing to use disused mine shafts rather than cranes – another proposition I find interesting. In short, gravitational storage definitely works. How these projects perform in real life is something we are just coming to know because they haven’t been necessary in our energy system until now. It will be interesting to see!
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