Enel Green Power is partnering with Swiss company Energy Vault to integrate the recycling of decommissioned wind turbine blades into the weights used by the latter’s gravitational energy storage system.
The partnership aims to integrate the gravity energy storage technology with the recycling of materials no longer needed at wind farms, applying a circular economy perspective across the entire wind power value chain.
Energy Vault has already interconnected a 5MW commercial demonstration unit in Ticino, and recently announced the new EVx product platform – a 30 story building architecture, 40% shorter and fully flexible in terms of charging and discharging duration.
It uses blocks of solid material, as a storage medium.
These large blocks, weighing around 35 tonnes each, are lifted to store electricity when an excess of energy is produced and then when electricity is required, the blocks are lowered, exploiting the force of gravity to generate electricity as they descend.
The entire operations are orchestrated by proprietary software and computer vision that control the velocity and movement of the blocks.
The agreement signed with Enel Green Power has a series of successive steps planned that would use composite material from blades used in the blocks.
Enel Green Power head of energy storage and hybrid systems Pasquale Salza said: “The first phase included a detailed analysis of the technology at the first commercial system in Switzerland (grid connected in July 2020), and is followed now by a feasibility study for the creation of an initial commercial plant with an energy capacity in the order 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.”
Energy Vault chief product officer Marco Terruzzin said: “Our mission is to bridge the remaining gap in the clean energy pipeline by providing cost-effective and sustainable energy storage solutions, accelerating the usage of recycled materials for our units.
“As the world-leading clean energy provider, Enel is already delivering impact at a massive scale, and we are excited to work together in helping to ensure their energy solutions continue to make a positive impact in terms of cost competitiveness, sustainability and job opportunities related to the entire supply chain.”
Enel Green Power innovation factory head for the O&M and HSEQ functions Irene Fastelli said: “The use of (composite) material gives the blocks greater stability and robustness, increasing their durability and further lowering costs.
“The partnership with Energy Vault involves feasibility studies for integrating the composite material from Enel Green Power’s decommissioned turbine blades into the blocks used by the energy storage system.
“All of this occurs as part of a circular process, which includes the decommissioning of the wind plant, the treatment of the composite material at a shredding plant, its processing and reintegration into the energy storage system.”