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Urban Electric Power and Pine Gate sign five-year MOU for 4.5GWh of zinc batteries

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Urban Electric Power has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with developer Pine Gate Renewables to supply the latter up to 4,550MWh of its zinc batteries over the next five years.

Pine Gate will have preferential terms for acquiring Urban Electric’s patented zinc alkaline batteries over the next five years for its co-located and standalone storage projects. Pine Gate has over 1GW of operating solar assets in the US and a 16GW development pipeline.

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Urban Electric offers its batteries under the Ohm label to residential and commercial & industrial (C&I) customers but also has a utility-scale offering called Zeus. The zinc alkaline batteries have several advantages over lithium-ion, including lower integration costs, more plentiful supply of core materials, a less problematic supply chain and lower fire risk, the company said.

A company brochure says the Zeus battery energy storage system (BESS) has a power range of 250-1000kW and a duration of 2-24+ hours. Using the example of a five-hour, 760kw/3,800kWh system, it says the round-trip efficiency would be 86% – lower than lithium-ion which is typically in the high 90s.

Ann Marie Augustus, Urban Electric Power’s VP operations, said: “As we phase out fossil fuels and add distributed renewables, demand will only grow for replacing old battery technology with cost-effective energy storage that is safer, longer-lasting, and more environmentally friendly. We offer non-toxic, utility-scale battery energy storage with no thermal runaway fire risk, at a cost and environmental footprint less than standard lithium-ion or lead batteries.”

The deal is not Ashville-headquartered Pine Gate’s first use of zinc batteries. In November 2021, it chose another zinc battery manufacturer’s technology, Eos Energy, for a 500kWh standalone battery energy storage system (BESS) in Utah. That contributed to Eos Energy’s strong first quarter 2022 results in which sales grew year-on-year by a factor of 20.

Zinc battery chemistry, which marks the starting point of battery technology’s history, is growing in popularity as an alternative to lithium-ion. A company related to the US’ largest homebuilder D R Horton recently chose Salient Energy’s zinc-ion technology for installation in up to 200,000 homes citing issues with lithium-ion.

The technology has found a sweet in being a backup power for data centres, wrote Dr Josef Daniel-Ivad from the the Zinc Battery Initiative which represents companies including Urban Electric, Salient and Eos, in a guest blog for Energy-Storage.news. Urban Electric recently struck a deal to replace 1,000kWh of lead-acid batteries at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC).

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