18 September 2020: US Department of Energy’s ARPA-E helps SCALEUP of Natron’s sodium ion batteries

Sodium ion battery maker Natron Energy is being awarded with US$19 million in funding from the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

ARPA-E is running a programme called SCALEUP that seeks to provide assistance to “leading energy technologies with untapped potential”. Natron, which makes batteries using Prussian Blue dye electrodes to store electricity in sodium ion electrolyte, claims its products are higher-power and safer than lithium or lead acid batteries.

Natron said its batteries can also withstand ‘tens of thousands of cycles” at “extremely high rates of sustained charge and discharge”. The company began producing 4kW, 50-volt battery trays in commercial quantities at its California facility earlier this year after closing a US$35 million Series D funding round, initially targeting data centres and industrial applications.

The ARPA-E grant was awarded through a competitive solicitation process and Natron claimed that the scaling up it will enable for the company includes preparing the batteries for market in electric vehicle and stationary grid battery energy storage system (BESS) applications.

17 September 2020: Fiat Chrysler, ENGIE and Italy’s grid operator’s V2G pilot opened by Minister for Economic Development

ENGIE’s new energy division ENGIE Eps and Italy’s grid operator TERNA have officially inaugurated a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) project to interconnect up to 700 electric vehicles.

Working with carmaker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), the pilot project is sited at a logistics area of FCA facilities in Turin, Italy. A press conference was held with dignitaries including Italy’s Minister of Economic Development, Stefano Patuanelli, in attendance.

Phase 1 of the project has seen 32 bi-directional V2G points constructed that can connect up to 64 vehicles but the project is expected to be expanded up to its full size by the end of next year in Phase 2. The grid-scale resource created by connecting the car batteries will be used to provide services to TERNA and prove out the economic case for power company ENGIE and FCA.

ENGIE Italia is also building a 15MW carport solar PV installation. Minister Patuanelli ceremonially connected up a Fiat 500e EV to the V2G plant to finish up the inauguration event. The newer Fiat 500e, launched earlier this year has a 42kWh battery, double the capacity of the older model which went on sale in 2013.

17 September 2020: Enel X forms JV with investment house for Canada energy storage projects 

Enel X, the new energy and energy tech innovation arm of European power company Enel, is furthering its reach into the energy storage market in Canada, being one of a number of big players to have spotted opportunities north of the US border.

The company did its first initial commercial and industrial (C&I) battery storage project a couple of years ago in Ontario, with the Canadian province having a policy in place called the Global Adjustment Charge which offers big cost reductions if industrial customers can greatly reduce their energy usage from the grid during peak times.

Enel X has now partnered with a private investment house, Ardian, to create a joint venture (JV) vehicle, both to help manage the energy company’s existing project portfolio and support the acceleration of new project opportunities.

The JV will be 80% owned by Ardian and 20% by Enel X and will manage around 30MW of battery storage capacity. This includes two 10MW / 20MWh projects expected to reach commissioning next year, as well as eight other sites.

Enel X said the investment company’s financial support will enable the deployment of “state-of-the-art energy storage equipment, aimed at making power consumption and infrastructure more efficient”. Enel X will construct, operate and maintain the projects, as well as being responsible for developing future ones – all the company’s energy storage projects also utilise Enel X’s own distributed energy resources (DER) optimisation software. 

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