In June, we introduced our readers to Energy Dome, a company that uses carbon dioxide as an energy storage medium. (The irony of using carbon dioxide to help solve the problem of too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will not be lost on our savvy readers.) The company is currently constructing its first demonstration facility on the island of Sardinia, where its CO2 battery will help smooth the transition to renewable energy when the island switches off its two coal-fired thermal generating stations next year.
I got a press release from Energy Dome this past week telling me that its technology has attracted interest from Ørsted, the Danish company that is a global leader in wind turbine technology. The two companies have signed a memorandum of understand that will allow them to explore the feasibility of deploying of a 20 MW/200 MWh Energy Dome facility at one or more Ørsted sites.
20 MW/200 MWh? Did you read that right? Yes, you did. One of the key features of the Energy Dome system is it can return power to the grid for up to 10 hours. Most battery storage systems are limited to 4 hours or less. While it is true that the Energy Dome system cannot perform some of the voltage and frequency stabilization chores a battery can do, the ability to time shift the delivery of stored renewable energy for almost half a day is a significant step forward in energy storage technology.
The partnership aims to use long duration energy storage to provide baseload renewable energy to Ørsted’s end use customers, mitigating the growing variability in energy supply, and providing grid stability services. The agreement includes an option to develop multiple additional CO2 Battery energy storage facilities, with the potential for the first 20 MW project slated to begin construction already during the second half of 2024.
For Ørsted, testing the CO2 Battery energy storage project is part of the company’s plan to provide a comprehensive flexible solution that increases both the availability and reliability of green energy also with the aid of long duration energy storage. The first facility will be built in Europe with the actual site yet to be determined.
Kieran White, vice president for Europe Onshore at Ørsted, says, “As a company focused on quickly scaling the build-out of wind, solar, Power-to-X and other renewable energy solutions, we are delighted to work with Energy Dome to explore how we can deploy their innovative long-duration energy storage technology. We consider the CO2 Battery solution to be a really promising alternative for long duration energy storage. This technology could potentially help us decarbonize electrical grids by making renewable energy dispatchable.”
Claudio Spadacini, the founder of Energy Dome, says, “We are thrilled to collaborate with Ørsted, a clean energy pioneer and the world’s most sustainable energy company, on our shared vision of deploying as much energy storage as possible to enable 100 % renewable energy on the grid. Energy Dome looks forward to helping Ørsted achieve their renewable energy and energy storage goals as they expand into new markets.”
How Energy Dome Works
Our story in June delved into the mechanics of the Energy Dome technology and there is a video below that summarizes the process. But to those who may not have studied that article and committed it to memory, here is the essence of it.
The Energy Dome battery is a closed system that uses excess renewable energy to compress carbon dioxide until it is condensed into a liquid. The heat from this compression is captured and stored to be used again later, according to Euronews. When it is time to discharge the energy, the stored heat is used to evaporate the liquid carbon dioxide, which then turns back into a gas which spins a turbine as it returns to the dome. The system only requires steel, carbon dioxide, and some water. The closed loop system generates no emissions.
“Ironically, we use CO₂ to make our system work,” Spadacini says, before adding that it’s only needed to kick start the system, which is designed to last around 30 years. “Our system is fully closed. We add no emissions to the atmosphere. It’s just a black box which is able to charge with the surplus electricity when there is an abundance of it.”
“The CO₂ battery is fully sustainable and fully recyclable,” the inventor says. “We just use steel to produce the CO₂ battery and we use water only once to fill our water tank. We do not use water during the operation of the CO₂ battery and we just use a small amount of CO₂ to charge the battery at the beginning without any consumption of CO₂ during the operation.”
When I first came across this new technology back in June, I was skeptical. It seemed too fanciful, too much like science fiction, to be realistic. But if a global renewable energy leader like Ørsted is giving it serious consideration, I am inclined to believe this is a real opportunity to change the way renewable energy is used to transition away from thermal generation.
There are rumblings on the internet this week about how electric cars will break the grid (what else is new?) because so many of them will be charging overnight that utility companies will have to build massive new fleets of thermal generating stations to meet the demand. Well, maybe not. If affordable long term energy storage is available (Energy Dome says its system costs about half what a battery storage system costs), there’s a possibility the world may avoid that dire situation.
What the Energy Dome system does is offer a way to replace the baseload “spinning generation” that typically keeps a minimal amount of electricity flowing during the dark of night when demand is low. The operative word here is “dispatchable.” That means there is enough electricity available to meet demand whenever and wherever it is needed. Battery storage facilities can do some of that but not all. Energy Dome may be the answer to making renewable energy dispatchable any time of day, regardless of whether the sun is shining or the wind is blowing.
We might wish for new technology like this to come online more quickly, but in the real world, these things take time to prove themselves and to gain the confidence of major industry leaders like Ørsted. But once Ørsted is convinced, others will follow in its footsteps quickly.
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