Alevo unveils utility-scale energy storage solution

A new energy storage and data analytics solution aims to reduce losses from electricity generation and encourage the implementation of renewables.

This is the aim of Alevo, a company based in Switzerland that has revealed details of its new utility-scale lithium batteries and data analytics system, plus its new manufacturing facility in Concord, North Carolina that will produce GridBanks.

GridBanks are shipping containers filled with Alevo’s batteries that are rated to provide 2MW of power (1MWh of energy) per unit for use as capacitance – storage – points on electrical grids.

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The active ingredients inside the batteries – which are recyclable and do not require active cooling or a battery management unit – are LFP (lithium ferrophosphate) and graphite. Alevo’s lithium cell also contains an inorganic electrolyte that is completely non-flammable.

‘The electrolyte is incredibly robust, it can take up to a hundred times current draw compared to any other electrolyte we looked at,’ Jostein Eikeland, chairman and CEO Alevo Group told The Engineer.

Furthermore, the focus on inorganic materials has given the batteries two important properties, namely: thermodynamic stability that allows the batteries to return to the same state following each charging cycle; and an electrochemical loop to regulate overcharge and deep discharge conditions, thereby completely minimising battery degradation.

‘For us, its really important to be inorganic – 100 per cent chemical – because that takes us to the point where we have no calendric ageing,’ said Eikeland. ‘You can also run more current through without having any…internal runaway or things like that.’

Eikeland added that the batteries are optimised to work between the 20oC and 39oC and that there is less than 1oC in temperature variation when run at 2C charge/discharge.

According to Alevo, tests have shown that their battery technology has outlasted all standard industry performance measures, with battery cells recording no signs of increase in internal resistance after more than 30,000 cycles of over-charge followed by deep discharge.

‘We’re still examining hammer tests [started] in early 2011 that are running on the first batteries,’ said Eikeland. ‘We have reached 40-43,000 cycles so far, and we now charge and discharge fully within 20 minutes.’

Eikeland added that a motivating factor behind Alevo’s solution was to curtail the approximately 30 per cent of energy wasted globally through inefficiencies and power wastage but that costs associated with battery storage had held back progress in this field.

According to Alevo, key to waste reduction is the combination of GridBanks units with advanced data analytics that monitor grid usage in real time, enabling the batteries to be utilised for services that drive efficiencies such as peak shaving, frequency regulation and renewables integration.

Further benefits can be gained from the long-life of the batteries themselves, which have an ensured warranty of 20 years per unit.

On Monday 28 October, 2014 Alevo announced that it is setting up a manufacturing plant in Concord, North Carolina, with the creation of 2,500 jobs and the potential for the creation of up to 6,000 jobs as further manufacturing processes are brought to the plant, which provides 3.5 million square feet of manufacturing space.

Alevo, which plans to invest a total of $1bn into its manufacturing operations, said it had not recieved any government subsidy for its endeavor.

‘We haven’t taken a single government dollar and we’ve no plans to do either,’ said Eikeland. ‘Everything’s private, we have no debt. We’ve done this on our own.’

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