Carbon dioxide is getting a bad rap these days, but even a molecule that contributes to global warming can help in the fight to avoid a climate catastrophe. A case in point is long duration energy storage, which is the key to shoehorning more wind and solar energy into the grid, more quickly.
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Long Duration Energy Storage, Now With CO2
Long duration energy storage has yet to make a significant dent in the global energy profile. To date, the only widespread form of storage technology that can last longer than a few hours is the century-old “water battery,” in the form of hydropower reservoirs and their cousins, pumped hydro reservoirs.
On the plus side, hydropower dams and pumped storage systems already sport transmission infrastructure. Developers are eyeballing them for additional green power by adding floating solar arrays. However, hydropower facilities are site-specific, they disrupt habitats, and they are increasingly vulnerable to climate impacts.
The prospects for a whole new fleet of hydropower facilities around the globe are slim. What the world needs is modern technology that is more site-agnostic. That has been a tough row to hoe, but the Italian firm Energy Dome is among those who have spotted a way forward.
The Energy Dome CO2 Solution
Energy Dome is new to the CleanTechnica radar, but it caught the eye of Bloomberg NEF, which awarded the company a slot in the 2022 cohort of newly minted BNEF Pioneers, for delivering “round-the-clock zero-emissions power” with its new CO2 Battery.
BNEF Pioneers is in its 10th year of identifying “the most impactful and original technology innovations for advancing the low-carbon economy,” and Energy Dome is the first company to represent Italy in the competitive program.
The winning technology is a closed-loop CO2 system that hits the magic 4-hour ceiling for short term energy storage, and then charges past it for up to 24 hours.
As for cost, that’s the sticky wicket — or not, as the case may be. Lithium-ion battery arrays are currently the system of choice for utility scale energy storage. The US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has been tracking a downward trend in the cost of Li-ion arrays, based on a typical duration of 4 hours. Energy Dome estimates it can beat Li-ion on costs by a mile, delivering up to 6 times that duration at half the cost.
Long Duration Energy Storage With CO2: How Does It Work?
To ice the long duration energy storage cake, Energy Dome claims that its system is based on proven technologies with non-flammable, non-toxic materials, and that it maintains its performance level for 25 years and possibly longer.
“We believe the CO2 Battery will help significantly accelerate the clean energy transition by replacing baseload fossil fuels with fully dispatchable solar and wind energy,” enthuses Energy Dome’s founder and CEO Claudio Spadacini.
CleanTechnica has been taking a look at supercritical CO2 systems that leverage concentrating solar power, so it’s not a surprise to see the pesky molecule deployed in the service of decarbonization. For Energy Dome, it’s a perfect fit with long duration energy storage:
“CO2 is the perfect fluid to store energy cost effectively in a closed thermodynamic process as it is one of the few gases that can be condensed and stored as a liquid under pressure at ambient temperature,” Energy Dome explains. “This allows for high density energy storage without the need to go at extreme cryogenic temperatures.”
“In charging mode, the CO2 is drawn from an atmospheric gasholder, the Dome, compressed and then stored under pressure at ambient temperature in a high density supercritical or liquid state,” they add. “When energy needs to be released, the CO2 is evaporated and expanded into a turbine, and then returned back to the atmospheric gasholder, ready for the next charging cycle.”
If you’re wondering why not just go to compressed air systems for long duration energy storage, that’s a good question. Energy Dome claims that storing the liquid at ambient temperature avoids additional costs related to compressed air systems, and liquid air systems, to boot.
Who Cares About Long Duration Energy Storage?
Russia’s murderous rampage through Ukraine has exposed the destructive tentacles of the global fossil economy in all their ugliness. Energy policy makers around the globe are in a rush of panic to replace sanctioned Russian coal, oil, and gas with other coal, oil, and gas, but the revolting display of mass, homicidal psychopathy has also spurred a new recognition that globally distributed, renewable energy resources are the only sustainable path forward.
Energy Dome appears to have come along in the right place at the right time. Earlier this month, before the BNEF Pioneers award was announced, the company signed a deal with Italy-based Ansaldo Energia, aimed at accelerating “the transition away from fossil fuel power toward renewable energy to meet climate goals.”
Ansaldo Energia is also new on the CleanTechnica viewfinder, but the international firm will probably pop up again, and soon. The Energy Dome deal involves up to 30 new long duration energy storage facilities over the next 5 years in the very markets targeted by Russian fossil energy stakeholders, including Italy and Germany, as well as the Middle East and Africa.
The first CO2 Batteries in the Ansaldo Energia series could be deployed as early as next year.
That’s just for starters. Energy Dome’s agreement with Ansaldo Energia is non-exclusive and the company is already anticipating that the validation of its technology will open up additional opportunities sooner rather than later.
“Energy Dome is open for business and we are negotiating multiple pre-orders for energy storage facilities of 100 to 200 MWh in size,” Spadacini said, when the deal was announced. “By entering into this agreement, after detailed technology validation, Ansaldo endorses the CO2 Battery and ensures its bankability by including performance guarantees backed up by its balance sheet. ”
“Energy Dome’s CO2 Batteries can be deployed just about anywhere at less than half the cost of similar-sized lithium-ion battery storage facilities and have superior round-trip efficiency, with no performance degradation over a 25-year lifecycle,” the Energy Dome emphasizes.
We’ll know more next year, when the first CO2 Battery fires up. In the meantime, a number of other long duration energy storage technologies are also beginning to emerge, especially in the gravity-based area, so stay tuned for more on that.
Follow me on Twitter @TinaMCasey.
Image: Energy Dome CO2 Battery for long duration energy storage (rendering courtesy of Energy Dome).
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