Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Eos Goes Global With New Utility-Scale Energy Storage Partners

The zinc-air battery startup reveals Enel, GDF SUEZ, National Grid, NRG, PNM, BASF as new partners.
Eos Energy Storage has been saying for months that it’s working with a global list of utility partners interested in bringing its zinc-air grid battery technology to commercial scale. Now the New York-based startup revealed those partners, including several of Europe’s biggest utilities, as well as one of North America’s most innovative ones.
On Tuesday, Eos announced that it’s added national Italian utility Enel, French power and water giant GDF Suez, U.K.-based powerhouse National Grid, U.S. municipal utility Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM), and Princeton, N.J.-based multi-faceted energy company NRG Energy, to its “Genesis Program” list of utility partners.
Under the program, which already counts New York utility Consolidated Edison as its first real-world demo partner, Eos will be working on “business case evaluation, product development and optimization, and pilot demonstration of Eos’s innovative battery technology,” according to Tuesday’s statement. Eos also announced it’s in a joint development agreement with BASF New Business GmbH, a unit of German chemical (and battery technology) giant BASF, to “enhance Eos’s battery technology and to support its Genesis program.”
Eos has been working with some of its newly announced partners for some time, while others are still in early-stage discussions, Phillippe Bouchard, Eos business development manager, said in a Wednesday interview.
Founded in 2007 and funded with about $27 million in venture financingfrom investors including Fisher Brothers and NRG, Eos lanched its first real-world pilot with ConEd in April, and doesn't expect its first grid-tied units to come online until next year.
But if Eos can do what it claims, it could disrupt the grid energy storage business. At $160 per kilowatt-hour for a 1-megawatt, 6 megawatt-hour unit, Eos’s unusual, aqueous electrolyte-based battery chemistry is targeting a price that’s far lower than the $600 per kilowatt-hour and up we’re seeing from flow batteries or the cheapest-of-cheap lithium-ion battery systems meant for the grid. It’s also far lower than the presumed costs for the hundreds of megawatts of grid-scale batteries deployed to date by vendors like NGK, A123 and Xtreme Power, to name a few.
As for what its new partners are planning to do with its batteries, Eos is still keeping relatively quiet, though Bouchard laid out a list of potential uses ranging from grand-scale transmission grid projects to behind-the-meter customer load balancing.
With National Grid and Enel, for example, Eos is looking at potential applications to help integrate and optimize the capacity of transmission lines that connect massive wind farms to the grid, he said. That can help defer the costs of new transmission lines and other capital expenses, as well as ensure a more steady and profitable stream of power from wind farm to energy market, he noted.
At the smaller scale, customers like ConEd, and PNM are looking at ways to use smaller batteries at strategic points in the distribution grid, like pole tops or at big customer interconnections, to help relieve local congestion or balance local instability, he said. GDF Suez is also considering batteries for microgrids in hard-to-reach, expensive-to-electrify places like Mediterranean islands, where a mix of solar, batteries and minimal fossil fuel-fired generation could displace expensive diesel generators or undersea transmission lines, he said.
As for NRG, the Princeton, N.J.-based energy giant is interested in Eos’s batteries for purposes ranging from large-scale load shifting to playing into Mid-Atlantic grid operator PJM’s grid balancing and frequency regulation markets, Bouchard said. NRG is also deeply involved in wind and solar power, plug-in vehicle charging and other green endeavors, and participated in a $15 million Series B round of funding for Eos earlier this year.