ROUNDUP: Leclanché Caribbean collaboration, Energy Vault-BHP, Propagation-safe battery tech deal

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LeBlock, the modular energy storage solution launched earlier this year by Leclanché. Image: Leclanché.

16 December 2021: Leclanché partners with MPC on St Kitts solar-plus-storage project

Leclanché has partnered with MPC Energy Solutions on utility-scale energy storage solutions, starting with a project in the Caribbean.

Switzerland-headquartered energy storage solutions provider Leclanché previously announced the project on the island of St Kitts. The project, called Green Power Plant, integrates 35.7MW of solar PV with 45MWh of battery energy storage and will provide about a third of St Kitts’ baseload energy requirements for up to 25 years. 

Sustainable energy project company MPC Energy Solutions, which is targeting growing its market share in the Caribbean and Latin American markets, will invest up to US$17 million of the Green Power Plant’s total US$74 million cost and has acquired 40% of the project holding company owned by Leclanché. 

The plant, in the St Kitts Basseterre Valley, will use Leclanché’s Energy Management Software, and the Swiss company has an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the project and a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with the island’s utility company, St Kitts Electric Company. The battery storage company also has a 20-year lease on the land to be used, with a five year renewal option and began construction in December 2020. 

Leclanché and MPC Energy Solutions described their collaboration as a strategic partnership, with the St Kitts project the first step. Earlier this year Leclanché launched its latest energy storage platform, a large-scale modular and stackable solution called LeBlock.

15 December 2021: Energy Vault to explore opportunities to decarbonise natural resources extraction with BHP

Energy Vault, the startup developing a novel energy storage technology based on gravity and kinetic energy, has formed a strategic agreement to work on decarbonisation of natural resources extraction. 

The company has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with natural resources producer BHP. BHP produces iron ore, copper, nickel, metallurgical coal and petroleum and its venture capital (VC) arm BHP Ventures is an existing investor into Energy Vault. 

The company’s energy storage solutions, which use cranes to lift huge weights on towers, lowering and swinging them to release energy for durations from two to 12 hours, could be deployed and implemented at BHP sites. The initial region of focus is expected to be Australia.

In addition, mine tailings or waste from BHP sites could be used to create the composite bricks that Energy Vault wants to use as weights in its storage systems. 

While Energy Vault revealed earlier this year that despite having built a demonstration facility in Switzerland, its large-scale storage systems technology is yet to be fully developed, it also launched a subsidiary which will supply energy storage software and services separately, hiring former Greensmith Energy CEO John Jung to lead it

15 December 2021: Battery tech with ‘thermal runaway shield’ to be used in Volta’s battery architecture

A “multi-million dollar order” has been placed for lithium-ion thermal management and fire safe technology developed by KULR Technology Group, a company with a background in providing cooling solutions for NASA space missions and aerospace companies.  

KULR has developed a Passive Propagation Resistant (PPR) solution which includes a patented ‘thermal runaway shield,’ designed to stop battery thermal runaway from spreading from cell to cell. 

The company has now received a three-year order from Volta Energy Products, a provider of stationary energy storage systems for commercial and industrial (C&I) and residential applications. Volta and KULR have worked together to design and test the PPR solution for use in Volta’s proprietary energy storage system battery architecture. 

Volta is a subsidiary of New York battery tech company Viridi Parente. Its initial order with KULR is worth US$1.6 million for high volume deliveries of equipment during 2022. It’s the first commercial order KULR has received for its PPR for stationary energy storage. 

“Safety is paramount in these applications and by pairing KULR’s space-proven technology with our proprietary architecture, we have designed the safest lithium-ion energy storage solution on the market,” Jon Williams, Viridi Parente’s CEO, said.

“We also plan to incorporate KULR’s technology into other Volta stationary and certain mobile storage systems in order to capitalise on the added safety it will provide our customers.”

Elsewhere, a novel ‘Supercell’ lithium-ion battery technology produced by Connecticut-headquartered startup Cadenza Innovation, which is similarly designed to prevent propagation is being trialled at an office block in New York by public utility NYPA.

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