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EnergyNest to build first industrial battery for oil & gas giant Eni

Project at Sicilian refinery will test Norwegian start-up's 'heatcrete' thermal concept starting in 2020

Norwegian energy storage start-up EnergyNext has inked a contract with Italian oil & gas major Eni to develop a first industrial-scale version of its thermal battery technology at a refinery on the southern coast of Sicily.

The so-called Gela project will be built around a steel-and-concrete-based ‘Heatcrete’ battery connecting an existing concentrate solar power installation and a steam turbine used for electricity generation.

The proto-battery, the size of which was not disclosed, will release solar energy stored during the day during the night to supply the refinery, which until now was fossil fuel-powered.

The project is slated to be operational in the second half of 2020, saving 60 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.

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“Many traditional energy companies, utilities as well as energy-intensive industry are still caught in old thinking,” said EnergyNest CEO Christian Thiel.

“This hampers fast progress, true environmental responsibility as well as new profitable business models. We applaud the leadership of Eni to actively adapt new technologies in their business and operations. Thermal batteries are now on the radar.”

EnergyNest has been testing a 1MWh demonstration thermal battery unit in Masdar City, in Abu Dhabi, over several years, with DNV GL externally validating its performance in 2017. Last year, it set up a manufacturing hub in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, to produce a design engineered to fit 20-foot intermodal containers.

Stationary energy storage installations will grow 122-fold from 2018 to 2040, rising from 9GW/17GWh to 1,095GW/2,850GWh and pulling in $662bn of investment, according to a new report from BloombergNEF.

In recent weeks Recharge has reported how Google spin-off and molten-salt specialist Malta has attracted a raft of billionaire investors and Swiss outfit Energy Vault secured $110m of funding from Japanese corporate giant SoftBank.

UK startup Highview, meanwhile, which is developing a liquid-air cryogenic energy storage concept, already has commercial projects in the pipeline; Siemens Gamesa has built its hot-rock thermal-storage commercial pilot project, and is expecting to offer the technology commercially in 2021; and wind pioneer Henrik Stiesdal is due to begin operation of a 1MW/24MWh hot-rock commercial pilot next year, with a view to commercialising the system within the next two years.

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