The Lugano-based start-up Energy Vault has announced that Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAEV), the venture capital subsidiary of the world’s largest oil production company Saudi Aramco, has made an investment of an undisclosed amount in the company. “Energy Vault’s innovative energy storage technology has unique environmental and economic benefits”, comments Mahdi Aladel, CEO of Aramco Ventures, in a press release, which also explains that the funding will be used to accelerate the global deployment of its energy storage technology.
According to information from the company itself, the Swiss pioneers in this field have successfully developed the world’s only cost-effective energy storage system that is not dependent on topography or a special geological subsurface. Its gravity-based energy storage system functions along the same principles as pumped hydro plants, although Energy Vault replaces water with cost-effective composite blocks made from local soil, sand or waste materials, including residues from fossil fuel production or fiberglass from discarded blades from wind turbines.
According to the company, every first generation Energy Vault system includes a total of 5,000 weights measuring in at 35 tons each. In turn, these are attached to a total of six crane arms on a tower with a total height of 33 floors that covers an area the size of a soccer field. A tower of this kind boasts a storage capacity of 35 megawatt hours with an output of 4 megawatts. This is created by lowering the individual blocks in free fall. The crane movements are controlled by algorithms and cloud-based software, while the system itself is fully automated.
Energy Vault has now optimized its technology, the company has confirmed. The new Evx product platform offers a “highly scalable” and modular architecture, which can be expanded in 10 megawatt hour increments to facilitate storage capacity of several gigawatt hours. The tower is up to 40 percent lower in height than the previously planned version, which reached a maximum of 120 meters. The prototype is located near Bellinzona in the canton of Ticino.
“Energy Vault has made rapid and meaningful progress over the last 12 to 18 months as we completed the first commercial scale deployment of our technology and we are pleased to have SAEV’s support as a strategic partner”, comments Robert Piconi, CEO and co-founder of Energy Vault, in the press release.