A California start-up that claims it can slash global CO2 emissions by decarbonising industry using superheated bricks to store excess green power has inked a deal with Portugal’s EDP to pair its technology with new wind and solar farms.

EDP plans to develop up to 400MW of wind and solar projects to power up to 2GWh of heat battery installations from Rondo Energy, the Portuguese energy group announced.

The deal is a major milestone for Rondo, which claims that its heat batteries can in the next 15 years cut global CO2 emissions by 15% – the amount of global emissions generated by burning fossil fuels for industrial heat.

To date, Rondo has only deployed its technology in one 2MW California facility that supplies thermal energy to an ethanol plant.

Rondo has already attracted serious interest in its technology, however, with investors including Microsoft and oil giant Saudi Aramco last year helping it raise $60m in new financing planned to speed up the rollout of its heat batteries worldwide.

The Rondo system uses electric heating elements, like those in a toaster or oven, to heat thousands of tonnes of bricks to temperatures of 1,500°C. Rondo says the bricks maintain the heat with less than 1% energy loss daily.

Photo: Rondo Energy

When heat is wanted, air flows up through the brick stack and is superheated before being delivered to the end point as superheated air or steam.

Rondo says its system is designed to drop into existing industrial facilities or power new-builds, and offers a fast, low-cost pathway to decarbonisation and reduced operating costs.

The bricks can both “charge” and deliver heat simultaneously. Other claimed benefits include the abundant nature of the key materials and the safety of having no moving parts or flammable materials. The batteries boast a 50-year lifespan.

Rondo and EDP, parent of global wind and solar development giant EDPR, plan to target commercial and industrial customers with what EDP describes as a “complete zero-carbon heat and electricity solution.”

“I hear again and again from major industrials, ‘the factory team always hates it when the decarbonisation team shows up: costs are going to go up and productivity is going to drop as we decarbonise,” said Rondo CEO John O’Donnell. “We’re changing that.”

“Working together, Rondo and EDP will deliver 24-hour clean heat to industrial customers at prices competitive with gas, and without any factory facility changes. This is a game-changer for Rondo, a game-changer for EDP, and a game-changer for their customers worldwide.”

EDP board member Vera Pinto Pereira said “Rondo’s technology opens a major business opportunity for the decarbonisation of our clients that have high energy needs and that use heat in their industrial facilities."

“By working with Rondo, we can meet their energy needs for renewable energy and heat in a cleaner, affordable, and reliable way.”

Rondo last year partnered with Siam Cement Group to expand the production capacity for its system at a facility owned by the Thai conglomerate to 90GWh per year. Rondo said this would be larger than any current battery manufacturing facility worldwide.

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