Surging appetite for storage – The year's most successful deals and why
Published 25th March 2022
By David Stent, Digital Producer, Climate Council
Energy storage investments have become one of the most sought after assets in the clean energy sector, up by 159% across 101 deals according to clean technology tracker Mericom. Such exceptional year-on-year growth reflects the need to rapidly integrate storage solutions that can maximise renewable and clean energy generation options. In just three years the total funding for storage in the US has jumped from $2.8 billion in 2019 to $6.6 billion in 2020, to $17 billion in 2021.
Such a keen appetite for storage companies and technologies has been triggered by the realisation that renewable generation is limited without the capacity to effectively capture, store and utilise electricity. The Climate Council examines three of the most successful storage deals over the last year, and how these can further the net-zero ambitions of the communities they serve.
Goldman Sachs purchases Slate Solar Project
Goldman Sachs Renewable Power (GSRP) has been leading a charge to increase renewable capacity in the US, adding the Slate solar and storage energy project to their 2.6 GW portfolio from 850 projects across the nation. Goldman’s latest deal sees the purchase of the development from Recurrent Energy, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Canadian Solar – one of the largest solar developers in North America.
The project will serve five organisations in California, delivering them their full energy needs through 390 MW of solar PV power together with 561 MWh of storage capacity. Covering the communities of Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), Central Coast Community Energy (3CE), the Power and Water Resources Pooling Authority (PWRPA), Silicon Valley Clean Energy (SVCE) and Stanford University – the project is estimated to provide the equivalent power to 126,000 California homes and abate over 369 Mt of CO2 emissions each year.
The significance of this project is two-fold; firstly, the manner of GSRP’s engagement reflects the appetite of major institutional investors and financiers toward renewable technologies, but importantly reflects the surging appetite of investors to uncover the most effective storage companies operating today. Secondly, that the size and demand of the off-takers reflects the capacity of solar PV and storage technology to satisfy massive industrial demand for electricity.
RedFlow signs zinc-flow battery deal in Queensland
Australia has gone from coal and gas guzzling giants, to establishing a diversified range of energy sources that are among the most exciting projects in clean energy. Tesla became an early entrant in the Australian energy storage market, delivering their ‘3 megawatt hours (MWhs) of storage and 1.5 MW of inverter capacity’ to South Australia. With renewable growth in Australia excelling beyond expectations, the need to develop massive storage facilities has become far more pressing.
The latest deal has seen Queensland-based zinc bromine flow battery developer, Redflow, sign a deal with California-based Anaergia subsidiary SoCal Biomenthane to collaborate on the development of between 5.5 – 6 MWh storage capacity – the largest to date in Australia.
These batteries are particularly exciting as they are the manifestation of the redox flow battery ( a type of zinc-flow battery) design, which is intended to be, “designed for high cycle-rate, long time-base stationary energy storage applications, and are scalable from small systems through to grid-scale deployments”.
Such a battery therefore engages with the issues surrounding the Australian renewable industry, that despite the ample space and natural resources, that the vast distances between generating asset and the consumers create significant inefficiencies in storing and transmitting energy. The redox flow battery attempts to engage with this problem by maximising the duration of storage and providing storage in notably harsh conditions, reflecting a resilience within the design.
Refining Giant Reliance Industries buys up renewable storage assets
Reliance Industries is well-known in the oil and gas sector for their market-leading position as a refiner of petrochemical products. Yet the trend of oil and gas giants hastily becoming integrated energy companies has continued – and reveals a few of the long-term concerns for major oil and gas companies that they will lose significant value to non-fossil fuel sectors, even in India.
Reliance Industries has purchased Lithium Werks for $61 million, an impressive and exciting lithium-ion phosphate battery producer that provides storage technologies for consumer products such as EVs. This purchase follows the larger deal $100 million deal for Faradion, a company producing sodium-ion batteries.
While these two deals may seem small in value, yet they reflect a trend in which countries with questionable climate records are hastily seeking avenues to engage with the transition – as the lost value of not engaging, will be far greater than what is gained continuing solely with fossil fuel products.
Reliance, despite their reputation, will be investing over $10 billion in clean energy projects until 2035 to reach their net-zero ambitions. Capturing a degree of manufacturing capacity in the lithium-ion and sulphate-ion battery sectors, while enjoying dual benefits of proximity to India and China’s manufacturing bases – indicates that Reliance will continue to increase their market share of battery storage and utilise such access to create affordable and accessible consumer storage options.
Ghana goes big with Huawei-Meinergy Solar and Storage deal
Africa is often left out of enjoying cutting-edge renewable technologies, with wealthier states grabbing every opportunity to expand their renewable portfolios. Ghana is bucking this trend through an agreement with Chinese conglomerate giant, Huawei, to “provide a complete smart PV & energy storage system (ESS) solution for the 1 GW utility-scale PV plant and 500 MWh ESS project developed by Meinergy Technology”.
The 1 GW solar PV plant will be the largest in the country and will go a long way to achieving Ghana’s green energy ambitions, seeking to grow clean energy to 10% of the energy mix and expand energy access by 2030.
Meinergy has built up a reputation for successful renewable projects in Ghana, and will be responsible for the development of the project with Huawei proving technical assistance. For a country that only enjoyed 64MW of renewable energy in 2019, but has now commissioned 1GW of solar PV. This 1GW project, supported by a 500 MWh battery, will go a long way to completing Ghana’s objective of 2.5GW of renewable capacity by 2030 – and underscores how rapidly a country can shift their energy security through renewables within a 5-year period.
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