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⚡ Ultra-Low-Cost Thermal Energy Storage

My Climate Journey

Photo by Amy Hamerly / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Jason Jacobs
Guest: Andrew Ponec | Co-Founder & CEO | Antora Energy
Category: ⚡ Renewable Energy

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[4:44] “Antora is decarbonizing industrial power and heat with a new type of thermal energy storage.

[8:08] “One of our early hypotheses was that lithium ion batteries were going to solve all of the problems in energy storage […]. And it was only slowly over time […] that we determined that we didn't think that was going to be sufficient in all the cases. I know this is pretty well accepted now within the community, but in order to have a renewables based energy economy, you need something to bridge these multi day gaps, where you don't have a lot of sun and wind. […] And that's what kind of narrowed the focus to this very long duration or multi day type energy storage.”

[9:06] “People often talk about [how] we don't have good long duration energy storage. And of course you can take any shorter duration energy storage, like a lithium ion battery, and just discharge it really slowly, and it will discharge over a long period of time. So there's nothing fundamental about discharging slowly that is hard to do. When people talk about long duration energy storage being a difficult problem, what they're really talking about is cost. They're saying, can you have something that can discharge for 100 plus hours, but it still has a cost per kilowatt, a cost per power capacity that is competitive with other types of power capacity on the grid?”

[13:57] “At its most fundamental level, thermal energy storage means you're going to take your input electricity […] to heat up some material […] and then the harder part is to take that stored heat and convert it to some other useful purpose. And that useful purpose could be something like process heat for industry. You need to put heat at the right temperature, at the right process conditions into an industrial process. Or it could be to get that heat back out in the form of electricity again, which is obviously very useful if you can do that at a different time than when you had the excess electricity.”

[21:46] “We have […] the unique ability to provide process heat at a variety of different temperatures and electricity from the same system and in a varying proportion. So right now, there's actually a fair amount of combined heat and power used in industry […]. One of the big challenges with that has been that you get both at the same time, kind of by definition. And what we found is that there are some pretty big economic advantages to being able to put a single unit at a site, and then provide variable dispatchable, on demand electricity, and dispatchable heat, both of which are coming from clean electricity.”

[31:10] “If you look at the size of industrial energy markets, they are massive. Probably a quarter to a third of all global emissions are coming from industrial heat and industrial power. So certainly, we don't see the industrial use case as sort of a stepping stone to something else. This is a very attractive long term market for the company. That said, we do think that in the future, we will probably also be branching out into […] pure play grid and […] utility type sales.”

[32:22] “The direct competition, in almost all cases, is natural gas in the form of combined heat and power, or a combination of natural gas for heat and grid electricity for the electricity. […] We're competing against conventional energy sources, not so much other new technologies.

[36:28] “The top priority for us is decarbonizing industry. So the vision that we really see is that when you go to an industrial facility, whether that's anything from a mine to a big agricultural processing plant to a chemical facility, that you're seeing an Antora unit out there next to the plant that is providing the process heat that would have been otherwise coming from fossil fuel sources, and that is allowing them to have a reliable electricity supply every hour of every year that is entirely sourced from variable renewables like solar and wind.”

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify | Google (Original Title: "Startup Series: Antora Energy")
🕰️ 47 min | 🗓️ 01/27/2022
✅ Time saved: 45 min

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