The Global Race to Build the World’s Biggest Battery

Elon Musk sparked a competition for the world’s biggest battery.

Ever since Tesla completed the 129-megawatt-hour Hornsdale Power Reserve battery plant after <a href="">Musk&rsquo;s high-profile Twitter bet</a>, others have been looking to beat it.

This summer, for instance, saw two &ldquo;world&rsquo;s biggest battery&rdquo; announcements coming out within days of each other. Given different commissioning dates, both might actually claim the prize for a while. But which country will ultimately end up with the biggest battery?&nbsp;

Here is a rundown of the top contenders, based on announcements made to date.&nbsp;

South Korea

LS Industrial Systems (LSIS) and Macquarie Capital Korea have won the contract to build and operate a 175-megawatt-hour battery storage system across five sites owned by SeAH, a steel conglomerate, <a href="">LSIS announced</a> in July.

LSIS did not give a commissioning date for the energy storage project but said it would be used to save cheap nighttime electricity <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="" border="0"></div>
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The Death-Defying Reinvention of Advanced Microgrid Solutions

On paper it looked like a triumph.

Advanced Microgrid Solutions closed a $34 million Series B last summer with a <a href="">&ldquo;who&rsquo;s who of strategic investors&rdquo;</a>&nbsp;&mdash; folks like DBL Partners, GE Ventures and utility-backed VC firm Energy Impact Partners. That was a hefty sum for an energy storage startup.

What hadn&rsquo;t been reported previously is that AMS almost ran out of money before that funding came through. Founder and CEO Susan Kennedy saved her company by cashing out her retirement fund to invest $1 million in a bridge round.

That commitment helped her assemble a total of $5 million, which kept the company alive until the Series B closed. Securing that round also required an overhaul of the strategic vision Kennedy was pitching to investors.

The company <a href="">burst onto the scene in 2014</a> as a tiny project developer that somehow nabbed a 50-megawatt behind-the-meter storage contract with utility Southern California <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="" border="0"></div>
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Siemens Backs Northvolt as Gigafactory Fever Takes Hold

The industrial giant Siemens has announced a &euro;10 million (USD $12 million) investment in the Swedish battery manufacturing venture Northvolt.

Siemens said in&nbsp;<a href="" >a press release</a>&nbsp;that&nbsp;the agreement would include equipping Northvolt&rsquo;s upcoming lithium-ion gigafactory with an enterprise IT platform to enable &ldquo;the digitization of the entire value chain, from the design of the battery cell to production and services.&rdquo;

The partnership will also see Siemens becoming a Northvolt battery customer once the gigafactory begins operating in 2020.

The "digital enterprise" system will support everything from manufacturing planning and design software to automation, including industrial communications networks and cloud solutions, Siemens said.

&ldquo;Siemens sees the Northvolt initiative as a reference project for the battery production of the future,&rdquo; according to the company.

Cutting-edge IT is viewed as an important ingredient in helping gigafactories achieve the efficiency levels needed to deliver rock-bottom battery prices.&nbsp;

In 2016, Tesla purchased German <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="" border="0"></div>
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Another Flow Battery Maker Tries Residential—in Germany

A startup hopes to crack Germany&rsquo;s residential energy storage market with a flow battery, despite problems for the technology elsewhere.

VoltStorage, of Olching, Bavaria, is commercializing Europe&rsquo;s first redox flow battery for home use in a move that echoes Redflow&rsquo;s brief excursion into the residential market in Australia.

The VoltStorage Series 100 battery, with 3.6 kilowatts and 6.8 kilowatt-hours of capacity, was being offered at a preorder <a href="" >price of &euro;5,999</a> (about USD $7,060). It is not clear if this price includes installation costs and sales tax.&nbsp;

For comparison, the 4.6-kilowatt, 13.5-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion Tesla Powerwall <a href="" >sells for &euro;7,350</a> ($8,650) in Germany, including supporting hardware and 19 percent sales tax, with installation costing up to a further &euro;3,300 ($3,890).&nbsp;

Assuming the VoltStorage price excludes installation but includes sales tax, buying the flow battery will cost more than a third more per installed kilowatt-hour of capacity than <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="" border="0"></div>
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After Long Period of Silence, Ecoult Returns to Multi-Megawatt Battery Market

Ecoult, the advanced lead-acid battery maker, is back in the grid-scale energy storage game with a 2-megawatt project for an unnamed government client.

The project is the first megawatt-scale project for the low-key Australian manufacturer since it installed a 1-megawatt battery for ancillary services, peak shaving and emergency backup on the PJM Interconnection grid in 2016.

&ldquo;This project is significant and combines the opportunity to benefit from revenue for the provision of ancillary services when the grid is operating with the ability for the facility to island from its own renewable and diesel resources if the grid fails,&rdquo; said CEO John Wood.

Ecoult sells a unique supercapacitor-plus-lead-acid-battery combo called the UltraBattery, or "UltraFlex" for units up to 20 kilowatts, which excels at cycling with a partial state of charge (PSOC). It has only installed a handful of large-scale systems over the years, though.

Its first major deployment was a 1-megawatt, <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="" border="0"></div>
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Redflow Seeks $14 Million Cash Injection for Growth

The Australian flow battery-maker Redflow has announced a share offering aimed at raising AUD $18.1 million (USD $13.7 million) to fund expansion. The move comes after Redflow relocated its manufacturing from Mexico to Thailand last year.&nbsp;

The Australian Securities Exchange-listed company said the money would come through an offering of AUD $7.5 million (USD $5.7 million) to new investors and a fully underwritten, non-renounceable entitlement offer of AUD $10.6 million (USD $8 million) to existing backers.

These include the company&rsquo;s former executive chairman and CEO, millionaire entrepreneur Simon Hackett, who is Redflow&rsquo;s main investor with a 17.3 percent share of the business.&nbsp;

Hackett is planning to put an extra AUD $1.9 million (USD $1.4 million) into Redflow, according to a shareholder letter from chairman Brett Johnson.

New CEO Tim Harris is also set to invest AUD $500,000 (USD $379,000) in <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="" border="0"></div>
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Distressed ViZn Seeks Lifeline Following Staff Layoffs

Zinc redox flow battery maker ViZn Energy Systems is scrambling to find backers after the lead investor pulled out of its latest funding round.&nbsp;

Stephen Bonner, ViZn&rsquo;s chairman, interim CEO and president, told GTM the company was in serious conversations with five potential suitors after the loss of an unnamed investor created dire cash problems for the energy storage developer.

Montana-based ViZn is also pursuing early-stage negotiations with another seven or eight investors, Bonner said, and is seeing &ldquo;very strong international interest.&rdquo;&nbsp;

The companies are all different from investors previously lined up to take part in ViZn&rsquo;s financing round, he said. ViZn is understood to need million-dollar-plus levels of investment and is looking for a new name to act as lead investor.&nbsp;

Although ViZn has not filed for Chapter 11 insolvency protection, the company has sacked all but two of its 70-person team. Local paper <em>Flathead Beacon</em> <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="" border="0"></div>
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Saft Alliance Takes Aim at Asia’s Dominance in Lithium-Ion Battery Manufacturing

Saft, the 100-year-old French battery maker now owned by Total, last month unveiled an alliance aimed at taking on Asia&rsquo;s dominance in the lithium-ion market.

The alliance, which includes chemicals firm Solvay, battery assembly specialist Manz, industrial giant Siemens and &ldquo;other leading European companies,&rdquo; will embark on an ambitious program of research to develop the &ldquo;<a href="" >battery of the future</a>."

The program will be focused on creating advanced high-density lithium-ion and solid-state batteries for electric vehicles, energy storage and sectors such as defense and electronics, where Saft already has a substantial foothold.&nbsp;

&ldquo;These new generation batteries will provide performance, cost and safety advantages compared to current lithium-ion products,&rdquo; promised the battery maker.&nbsp;

Rory McCarthy, a London-based senior energy storage analyst with GTM Research, said it will not be easy to challenge Asia&rsquo;s dominance in lithium-ion, though.

&ldquo;The Europeans have historically been successful in some cleantech areas, such <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="" border="0"></div>
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FERC’s Historic Energy Storage Ruling: A Doomsday Countdown for Natural Gas Peakers?

If storage is the Swiss army knife of the electric grid, then U.S. energy regulators are breaking out their tool belts.

Last week brought a historic ruling at FERC. Commissioners told regional grid operators to create rules valuing the grid services of energy storage. Will it screw natural gas peakers -- or maybe cut, saw, file, prune, hook or crimp them?

Later in the podcast, infrastructure redux. The White House&rsquo;s infrastructure plan is out. When it comes to energy, the Trump administration is making pipelines a priority, and largely bypassing clean energy.

We&rsquo;re heading down to Mexico for our final segment. GTM was there for our solar summit last week, and we&rsquo;ll share a bit of insight into the forces behind one of the hottest -- and cheapest -- solar markets in the world.

<em>This podcast&nbsp;is brought to you by CPower Energy Management.&nbsp;<a href=";utm_medium=GTM&amp;utm_campaign=Marketing_GTM_EnergyGangSponsor_Q12018&amp;utm_content=EnergyGang" rel="nofollow" >Find out more</a>&nbsp;about CPower&#39;s <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="" border="0"></div>
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The State of Energy Storage in America

Energy storage has arrived.&nbsp;

This year brought numerous record-breaking battery projects, dozens of acquisitions and partnerships, and over a dozen utility integrated resource plans that factor in storage. Within a decade, the U.S. storage market could be 25 times bigger than it is today -- swamping natural-gas peaker plants and enabling a vast array of new grid applications.

In this week&#39;s episode, we open up our vault of data and describe the state of storage in America:&nbsp;which sectors are dominating, how utilities are thinking about the technology, where the economics stand, and what to look for in 2018.

Plus, we&#39;ll have a conversation with Green Mountain Power CEO Mary Powell about how customer-sited battery storage fits into the utility&#39;s broad culture and tech shift.

<iframe scrolling="no" src="" style="width: 100%; height: 200px; border: 0 none;"></iframe>

<em>This podcast is sponsored by Schneider Electric. Now, you can reap the benefits of a microgrid with no upfront capital through the new microgrid-as-a-service <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="" border="0"></div>
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Australia Pursues the Sodium Battery Dream

An Australian team is looking to commercialize a large-scale sodium battery technology, despite the chemistry&rsquo;s long and checkered history.&nbsp;

Researchers at the University of Wollongong (UOW), New South Wales, are developing a 5-kilowatt-hour sodium-ion battery pack that can be used for stationary storage applications, according to&nbsp;the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

A 30-kilowatt-hour battery system is due to be tested alongside solar panels at a Sydney Water sewage pumping station in 2019, said ARENA, which has put AUD $2.7 million (USD $2.1 million) into developing the technology.&nbsp;

Before then, a single 5-kilowatt-hour battery will debut in a UOW sustainable home showcase called the Illawarra Flame House. ARENA&rsquo;s funding, part of a total project cost of AUD $10.6 million (USD $8.1 million), was announced in April 2016.&nbsp;

At the time, ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht <a href="" >called it</a>&nbsp;&ldquo;a new type of sodium battery that&rsquo;s modular. <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="" border="0"></div>
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