Plans to store energy using concrete blocks

Cemex Ventures has announced an investment in a company that has developed a technology to store energy by raising concrete blocks using a bespoke crane.

The investment in Energy Vault is to be reinforced by support for rapid market adoption and deployment of the technology through Cemex’s strategic network.

Cemex said that Energy Vault’s energy storage technology solves a key challenge for renewables, which have struggled to replace, in a significant manner, fossil fuel power due to production unpredictability and intermittency of wind and sunlight. It added that energy Vault’s system enables renewables to deliver baseload power below the cost of fossils fuels 24 hours a day.

Energy Vault’s technology was inspired by pumped hydro plants that rely on the power of gravity and the movement of water to store and discharge electricity. This solution is based on the same principles of physics and mechanical engineering used in those plants. The system replaces water with custom-made concrete bricks. The massive bricks are combined with its patented system design and proprietary algorithm-based software to operate a newly designed crane. The crane orchestrates the energy storage tower and electricity charge/discharge while accounting for a variety of factors, including energy supply and demand volatility, weather elements and other variables such as inertia and system deflection.

Cemex said that, as a result, Enegy Vault can deliver all the benefits of a gravity-based pumped hydro system with lower price, higher round trip efficiency, without the requirement for specific land topographies and negative environmental or wildlife impacts.

This investment follows a previously announced technology partnership with Cemex to provide concrete and other composite material technology for Energy Vault’s storage towers.

“Energy storage that enables power to be delivered for less than the cost of fossil fuels is critical as the world shifts away from its reliance on carbon-based fuels to renewable energy,” said Gonzalo Galindo, CEO of Cemex Ventures. “Energy Vault’s storage technology is transformational, and we’re extremely pleased to broaden our relationship and support the company’s efforts. The investment is also important because it complements the Cemex R & D partnership and will accelerate our corporate objectives to achieve a carbon-free industrial footprint”.