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22 May 2019

CEMEX invests in concrete energy storage tech

First publishedon www.AggBusiness.com

The venture capital unit of building materials company CEMEX has invested in Energy Vault, a startup that has developed technology to store energy in concrete blocks.

CEMEX Ventures says that the energy storage technology developed by Energy Vault (part of Swiss-based technology incubator Idealab) solves a key challenge for renewables, which have struggled to siginificantly replacefossil fuel power due to production unpredictability and intermittency of wind and sunlight. It adds that, consequently, energy storage solutions that can harness energy from renewable sources become vital if cleaner and more sustainable sources of energy are sought.

CEMEX Ventures says that Energy Vault’s system enables, for the first time, renewables to deliver baseload power below the cost of fossil fuels 24 hours a day.

The new investment is further reinforced by plans to support rapid market adoption and deployment of Energy Vault’s technology through CEMEX’s strategic network.

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. Energy Vault’s system replaces water with custom made concrete bricks through an innovative use of low-cost materials. 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.

As a result, its is claimed that Energy 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. It is further stated that Energy Vault’s longer duration and more cost-effective energy storage, electricity from renewables can be delivered for less than the price of fossil fuels 24 hours a day for the first time. In April 2019, Energy Vault won the World Changing Idea Award from Fast Company in the Energy category for the unprecedented economic and environmental benefits its technology provides.

“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.”

The new investment Energy Vault follows CEMEX's previously announced partnership to provide concrete and other composite material technology for Energy Vault’s storage towers.

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