In the global race for energy storage technologies, the Oslo-based start-up EnergyNest takes the lead. In cooperation with the Italian oil & gas major Eni the first thermal energy storage for CO2-free power generation will be built in Sicily, Italy. EnergyNest is headed by Dr. Christian Thiel.
Around a dozen start-ups globally are busy with the development of highly efficient energy storage technologies for industrial applications; partly financed by Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Hasso Plattner, Jack Ma via the investment fond Breakthrough Energy Ventures. The objective of these efforts being the effective integration of renewable energies and matching its supply with actual demand through smart and flexible storage systems, enabling for example: solar energy during the night or power from wind turbines during calm.
No company has gotten as far as Norwegian EnergyNest, which is led by Christian Thiel. Just a few days ago, Thiel signed a commercial contract for the supply of the first industrial energy storage project with EnergyNest Thermal Batteries. This project, under the lead of Italian oil & gas major Eni, is located in a refinery on the southern coast of Sicily.
Christian Thiel: “The hype around energy storage technologies is huge, and rightfully so. Already today, we have technologies for industrial applications at hand for sector coupling and true advancements in the energy transition. Energy storage is about the entire energy spectrum: The heat market for energy storage solutions has been largely overlooked until now. Unfortunately, many traditional energy companies, utilities as well as energy-intensive industry are still caught in old thinking. This hampers fast progress, true environmental responsibility as well as new profitable business models. We applaud the leadership of Eni to actively adapt new technologies in their business and operations. Thermal Batteries are now on the radar.”
Eni is the first energy company globally that is implementing EnergyNest’s novel Thermal Battery on industrial scale. In the Gela project a Thermal Battery is connecting an existing concentrate solar power (CSP) installation and a steam turbine for power generation. This installation produces solar energy during the day and stores parts of it in EnergyNest’s Thermal Battery. During night time the Thermal Battery release this energy for required power generation, that until now has been produced by the means of fossil fuels. As a result, the carbon footprint of Eni’s production site is being reduced, energy management becomes much more efficient. The Thermal Battery is scheduled to start operations in the second half of 2020 and will save 60 tons CO2 emissions per year. For Eni the Thermal Battery from EnergyNest represents a breakthrough technology for the reduction of industrial greenhouse gas emissions.
EnergyNest is an award-winning (Mission Innovation TOP 100 Global Innovations, Nordic Cleantech winner, Horizon2020 SME-I Award, WWF Climate Solver) Norwegian technology company and was founded in 2011. The company has developed a highly flexible Thermal Battery, which enables customers along the entire energy system to maximize the value of their energy. A demonstration unit in Masdar City (Abu Dhabi) has been successfully tested over several years and performance externally validated in 2017 by DNV GL. During 2018 a production hub for Thermal Batteries was inaugurated in Rotterdam. Thermal Batteries from EnergyNest are designed in accordance to 20-feet intermodal containers (6x2x2 meters), modular, fully scalable and environmentally friendly. The storage medium is the high performance concrete Heatcrete®, which is superior in heat conductivity, heat capacity and mechanical strength with a life span of 30-50 years without any degradation.
The energy research firm Aurora Energy Research (Oxford, Berlin) estimates the Thermal Battery market for industrial electrification, power plant flexibilization and industrial waste-heat-recovery at around EUR 300 billion until 2030. This attracts investors. Just recently, the investment fond Breakthrough Energy Ventures funded the start-up “Malta Inc.” in Cambridge, Massachusetts with USD 26 million. Two weeks ago, the Japanese fond Softbank invested 110 million into Lugano based “Energy Vault”. Both companies are still in the technology development phase and so far without real project installations and paying customers. However, EnergyNest is already offering a market-ready solution with demonstrated commercial pull from global customers.
Christian Thiel (born in 1976) is CEO of EnergyNest AS and turned the Norwegian start-up within just 5 years from and a concept developer into a commercially operating company. Born and raised in former Eastern Germany, Christian Thiel is globally the first CEO, who successfully brought a novel thermal energy storage technology to market. Christian has an industrial background from BMW Group and worked several years at McKinsey. Before heading EnergyNest he was part of the management team for a German wind turbine manufacturer.