Form Energy, invested by Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, is about to realize the next generation of prolonged battery energy storage technology by having signed a contract with Great River Energy, the second largest power company in Minnesota, on developing a 1MW/150MWh pilot power plant, which claims to store electricity for a much longer period of 150 hours in contrast to the existing lithium battery power plants.
Bill Gates has been a long-time advocate on energy, and his Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) has been incorporated with various energy storage and nuclear energy systems. In addition to Form Energy, Ambri, Aquion Energy, Malta, and carbon capture are also some of the more known technologies, with the most renowned being the 4th generation nuclear power technology Terra Power that claims to be able to transform nuclear waste into fuel.
Form Energy claims that the company’s system has lower technical costs and longer storage time. According to the press release, Form Energy’s battery system is able to store 150 hours of electricity, which is much longer that the 4-6 hours duration from a lithium battery energy storage system.
This is also the first commercial development of Form Energy, which the company claims to provide a low cost and long lasting electricity storage system through aqueous air batteries that are safe, cheap, and consist of materials that are easy to obtain. Perhaps it is a confidential matter, as the official website and the press release did not mention more detailed technical specifications, and all we know right now is that this technology is a modularized system, which can continue using the existing 1MW format when implementing further expansion in scale in the future without the need of a new design.
In order to optimize the efficiency in electricity storage and power generation, Form Energy also uses its own software analysis platform to optimize the dispatch of the power grid in order to reduce the impact of uncertainties, such as extreme climate, on power generation from renewable energy and the prices of power grids. Marco Ferrara, Vice President of the Analysis and Business Development Department of Form Energy, commented that new analysis tools are indispensable in the implementation of energy transformation.
As the largest state in the Midwestern United States, Minnesota is also one of the top states in the wind power ranking of the country. As of 2016, the installed capacity of wind energy in Minnesota had reached to 3,843MW, which is equivalent to more than 19% of wind energy, and is ranked 6th in the US, though strong wind does not occur every day, and that wind turbines are unable to operate during the tropical high pressure during summertime in July and August, thus the importance of an energy storage system is self-explanatory.
(Cover photo source: pixabay)