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Energy Vault obtains strategic investment from Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures

Energy Vault storage tower co-located with wind farm (Source: Energy Vault)

Energy Vault, the creator of renewable energy storage products that are transforming the world's approach to utility-scale energy storage for grid resilience has announced a new investment by Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAEV), the strategic technology investment program of global energy and integrated chemicals company Aramco.

Energy Vault will use the funds to accelerate the global deployment of its technology, designed to enable intermittent generation of renewable energy to be stored on a gigawatt-hour scale, both economically and sustainably, to deliver dispatchable electricity on demand. The value of the investment was not disclosed.

Energy Vault's innovative technology was inspired by pumped hydroelectric power plants that rely on the power of gravity and the movement of water to store and discharge electricity. The company's solution is based on the same well-known fundamentals of mechanical engineering and physics used in those power plants but replaces water with bespoke composite blocks through innovative use of low-cost, local materials and sophisticated materials science. The blocks are combined with Energy Vault's proprietary system design and machine vision, AI-enabled software to operate a specially designed crane that uses proprietary technology to autonomously orchestrate the raising and lowering of the blocks, thus storing the potential energy at height and then discharging the electricity when the blocks are lowered, generating energy. Most importantly, the blocks are manufactured from the soil, sand, or local waste materials, including fossil fuel production waste results, such as coal combustion waste, and obsolete energy components, such as wind blades. Energy Vault's first commercial-scale 5 MW/35 MWh system reached mechanical completion in July 2020, while being connected to Switzerland's national utility grid. The system has since been used by Energy Vault customers around the world for direct application testing and ancillary service protocols. sand or local waste materials, including waste results from fossil fuel production, such as coal combustion waste, and obsolete energy components, such as wind blades. Energy Vault's first commercial-scale 5 MW/35 MWh system reached mechanical completion in July 2020, while being connected to Switzerland's national utility grid. The system has since been used by Energy Vault customers around the world for direct application testing and ancillary service protocols. sand or local waste materials, including waste results from fossil fuel production, such as coal combustion waste, and obsolete energy components, such as wind blades. Energy Vault's first commercial-scale 5 MW/35 MWh system reached mechanical completion in July 2020, while being connected to Switzerland's national utility grid. The system has since been used by Energy Vault customers around the world for direct application testing and ancillary service protocols. while being connected to Switzerland's national public service network. The system has since been used by Energy Vault customers around the world for direct application testing and ancillary service protocols. while being connected to Switzerland's national public service network. The system has since been used by Energy Vault customers around the world for direct application testing and ancillary service protocols.

Over the past two years, Energy Vault has worked closely with the world's largest utilities and energy companies to further enhance its energy storage technology platform to be more flexible and meet higher power and variable duration needs. The result is the EVx product platform that sets a new benchmark in the energy storage savings industry.

The new platform is a natural evolution of the company's proven technology, leveraging all of the current attributes of zero degradation performance on average storage, high round-trip efficiency, long technical life, a sustainable supply chain, and composite blocks. EVx introduces a highly scalable, modular architecture that can be built in 10 MWh increments that can scale to multi-GW-hour storage capabilities. In addition, the EVx offers complete flexibility in its lifespan because power and power are separate, allowing deployments for high power/shorter duration (2-6 hours) needs, as well as longer duration storage applications (6-12 hours or more). Importantly, the new platform is 40 percent smaller in height and uses the same weights of composite blocks that can be manufactured from waste and remediation materials for beneficial reuse, such as coal combustion residues (coal ash), fiberglass from decommissioned wind turbine blades, and tailings from waste from mining processes. The result is unprecedented savings that are significantly less than any other energy storage technology on a flat-cost storage basis.

Energy Vault's energy storage system is ideal for businesses in a variety of industry verticals that have 24/7 energy needs and are transitioning to clean energy. Other regional examples include desalination plants, which require uninterrupted industrial electricity to deliver clean drinking water reliably and economically.

"Our mission at SAEV is to invest in companies that develop technologies that are strategically important to Aramco. Energy Vault's innovative energy storage technology has unique environmental and economic benefits. We are excited to help Energy Vault further accelerate the global deployment of its technology," said Mahdi Aladel, CEO of Aramco Ventures.

"Energy Vault has made rapid and significant progress over the past 12 to 18 months as we complete the first commercial-scale deployment of our technology, and we are delighted to have the support of SAEV as a strategic partner," said Robert Piconi, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Energy Vault. 

Author : Moulin Oza
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