Investing in long duration storage to solve renewables intermitency
TechEnergy Ventures is one of the investors who decided to support Quino Energy, a start-up which aims to bring to market an affordable Long Duration Storage solution developed by Harvard researchers to minimize the intermittency inherent to wind and solar energies.
TechEnergy Ventures, the investment fund for energy transition initiatives, believes that new technologies will play a fundamental role in the Energy Transition path. Within one of the verticals of the fund (Clean Power, which encompasses Renewables, Long Duration Energy Storage, Geothermal, Nuclear and others) it found Quino Energy, a start-up that proposes the development of an innovative Redox-Flow Battery (RFB) which shows very promising KPIs of materials availability, costs, robustness and duration. One of its main features is that the active compounds, although of organic nature, are carried in an aqueous solution. The concept was originally developed by a group of Harvard materials scientists and chemists led by Michael Aziz and Roy Gordon at Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology.
Marco Tivelli, Chief Technology Officer in Tecpetrol's Energy Transition Division, explains the decision to invest in RFBs and in particular in Quino Energy’s technology: “Redox Flow Batteries have the ability to decouple Power from Energy (duration) which is essential to optimize costs in long duration storage systems (Note. Li-ion batteries cannot do that). Quino in particular is based on materials that are abundant, low cost, and the tech features self-regeneration abilities for the active species that if proved at scale, would make a very robust and durable battery”. Quino’s batteries are designed for long duration (10+ hours) thus can be the ideal complement for solar and wind, minimizing their typical intermittency.
“Renewable energies (solar and wind) currently play a relevant role in the decarbonization of the electricity grid, but their output fluctuates with daily weather conditions; therefore grid operators have the need to deploy sustainable and affordable energy storage systems. So far, no cost-effective solutions have been proved at scale for durations of 10+ hours, and that is what Quino is aiming at", Tivelli remarked.
According to Quino Energy officials, "The cost of wind and solar electricity has dropped so much that the greatest barrier to get a greater mix of renewables in our energy matrix is their intermittency. A secure, scalable, cost-effective storage system could solve this problem."
"You might go two or three days without wind in a typical weather pattern, and you'll certainly go eight hours without sunshine, so having a discharge duration at a rated power of 5 to 20 hours can be handy. That's the sweet spot for flow batteries, where we think they can be especially competitive versus the shorter-duration lithium-ion batteries", states Quino Energy in a press release.
Quino Energy development roadmap includes a pilot plant (400 watts) operational by 2023. "The start-up is currently at a TLR 4 (technology readiness level 4, technology validated in a lab) so there is still a way to go to get to the commercial maturity of the product (TRL 9). "This is a first-round investment in the company but we believe that future rounds may find us following up with additional funding as the development milestones are met”, they explain.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) assigned a US$4.58 million grant, adding to Quino's recently concluded seed round, during which the company has raised US$3.5 million from a group of investors, including TechEnergy Ventures.
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