From Ashes to Energy: $1 Billion Alevo Battery Factory Surges On the Scene

Having worked in stealth mode for the past 10 years, German researchers and serial entrepreneur Jostein Eikeland have developed a new battery chemistry that they claim is non-combustible and highly efficient. The batteries, say Alevo, have at their core a new inorganic electrolyte that eliminates “both the risk of combustion and explosion and massively reduces the debilitating effects of charging cycles.”

According to the company Alevo has demonstrated in testing that its batteries can be charged up to 40,000 times with no signs of increase in internal resistance. This testing included over-charging followed by deep discharging.

The technology will be manufactured into what the company calls a “GridBank,” which is a large container-sized 2-MW (1 MWh) utility scale battery that in conjunction with the company’s battery management system, which it calls Alevo Analytics, will work to make the grid more efficient and smooth out fluctuations in energy caused by intermittent renewables like wind power and solar PV.  “What this means in practice is lower costs to the utilities, smaller bills for the consumer and a reduction in greenhouse gases per megawatt that will help cost-effective coal-fired generation achieve the EPA Clean Power limits,” said Eikeland in a statement.

GridBanks will be manufactured in Concord, North Carolina in a former Phillip-Morris cigarette factory, which is opening today. The manufacturing plant will create 2,500 jobs at the outset and will employ as many as 6,000 people when (and if) it reaches peak production capacity. Alevo says that the factory will be able to produce up to 480 GridBanks in the first year of production, set to begin in 2015. The company said it will be deploying and commissioning production lines that will produce 40 GridBanks per month by July 2015. 

The manufacturing plant sits on 2,023 acres, 1,500 of which is green field, which along with Duke Energy’s 38-MW substation on the property mean that the existing access to natural gas, water, sewer and fiber all exceed Alevo’s manufacturing requirements.

Alevo’s heritage in battery technology dates back to 2004. The past decade has seen continued investment in the core battery technology and in software development of the Alevo Analytics Suite. The investment in the combined research and development, together with the acquisition and fit-out of the manufacturing supply chain, represents a start-up investment of over $1 billion that has been met through private investments and equity funds.

The company is also announcing that it has two national level contracts. Alevo and China-ZK, a 51 percent private funded body that coordinates energy infrastructure in China, have signed a strategic agreement to promote and commercialize Alevo’s technology products and services in China. Meanwhile, in Turkey, Alevo has signed a joint venture distribution partnership deal with TSG and RBM.

Today, grid frequency is maintained through fossil fuel plants and demand reduction programs, explains the company. Frequency regulation through energy storage enables a higher efficiency in the grid, as over produced electricity can be stored and then discharged when the frequency is dropping. Alevo claims that its technology will reduce 30 percent of the energy “waste” on the grid. will continue to offer updates on Alevo and its new technology in the coming months.

Lead image: Aerial view of Alevo’s Concord, NC manufacturing facility. Credit: Alevo.

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Jennifer Runyon
Jennifer Runyon is chief editor of and Renewable Energy World magazine, coordinating, writing and/or editing columns, features, news stories and blogs for the publications. She also serves as conference chair of Renewable Energy World International Conference and Expo. Formerly, she was the managing editor of Innovate Forum, an online publication that focused on innovation in manufacturing. Prior to that she was the managing editor at Desktop Engineering magazine. In 2008, she won an "Eddy Award" for her editing work on an article about solar trees in Vienna. In 2010, was awarded an American Business Media Neal Award for its eNewsletters, which were created under her direction. She holds a Master's Degree in English Education from Boston University and a BA in English from the University of Virginia.

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