Enel Green, Energy Vault to reuse wind blades in gravity energy storage

Energy Vault. Image by Enel Spa (www.enelgreenpower.com)

July 9 (Renewables Now) - Italy’s Enel Green Power and the Swiss energy storage company Energy Vault have recently signed a partnership agreement seeking to integrate decommissioned wind turbine blades into Energy Vault’s gravitational energy storage technology, the two said yesterday.

Of wind farms’ components, blades are the hardest to recycle as they are made of composite material reinforced with fiberglass or carbon fiber, it is explained in the announcement. The partners are looking to integrate the composite material into the blocks used by Energy Vault for gravitational storage.

“The use of this material gives the blocks greater stability and robustness, increasing their durability and further lowering costs,”said Irene Fastelli of Enel Green Power.

Energy Vault’s technology is based on a similar principle as pumped hydro storage systems. It uses large blocks of solid material which are lifted to store excess electricity and are lowered when electricity is needed. A 5-MW commercial demonstration unit has been grid-connected in Ticino, Switzerland since July 2020 and Energy Vault has recently announced a new EVx product platform with a 30-story building architecture.

The companies said the first phase of their agreement analysed the first commercial system and the next phase now is a feasibility study for an initial commercial plant with an energy capacity of a few dozen megawatt-hours.

“If everything goes well, by the end of this year we may be able to conclude the feasibility study with a positive outcome for the construction of the EVx plant,” said Pasquale Salza, head of energy storage and hybrid systems at EGP’s Innovation function.

The alliance aims to address both the need for recycling wind turbines as more and more of them come to the end of their life and to provide storage to overcome wind’s intermittency.

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Plamena has been a UK-focused reporter for many years. As part of the Renewables Now team she is taking a keen interest in policy moves.

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