Altech closing in on game-changing grid storage battery plant

ASX-listed Altech Chemicals has finalized the design of a 100MWh battery plant capable of producing 60KWh battery packs that utilize table salt instead of lithium and other metals normally found in a lithium-ion battery after two workshops in Germany. The company says its devices offer safer, longer-term power solutions without the threat of price hikes and supply chain issues that plague the production of critical metal-infused products.

Altech’s battery packs have been coined “ABS60” and can be fully charged in roughly six hours from either renewable or grid-based energy sources. The company’s ABS60 devices were formally known as the CERENERGY sodium alumina solid state 60-kilowatt hour, or “KWH” battery packs and Perth-based Altech says their production symbolizes a game-changing substitute to lithium-ion batteries in terms of grid storage.

Grid or large-scale energy storage involves storing power during periods of inexpensive and profuse electricity and returning it to the grid when demand is higher and more expensive. Altech says its battery is designed to meet the demands of middle and long-duration power sources that provide continuous power over extended periods. The systems are frequently used in a range of green energy applications such as wind, tidal and solar-powered operations.

Altech says its ABS60 devices will cost roughly 40 per cent less to produce than traditional lithium-ion batteries, owing to the product’s chemical composition which lacks expensive minerals such as lithium, copper, cobalt, and graphite. The devices are also expected to deliver a longer lifespan and the Perth-based company is currently working up a bankable feasibility study to validate its assumptions.

According to Altech, it has selected all of the project’s key equipment suppliers and is currently exploring a suite of funding opportunities and grant schemes with European banks. In addition, the company has kicked off early-phase off-take discussions with potential buyers.

Altech Chemicals initially forged a JV partnership with German research group Fraunhofer ITKS to commercialize the large-scale energy storage alternative to lithium-ion batteries in September last year. Since then, the company has been working at breakneck speed to advance the project and commercialize a 100-megawatt hour battery facility on Altech’s land in Schwarze Pumpe, Germany. Altech embraces a 75 per cent stake in the JV with Fraunhofer known as “Altech Energy Holdings” who will claim ownership of the project’s intellectual property and battery technology rights.

Altech says the lucrative grid energy storage industry could grow at a striking compound annual growth rate of 28 per cent, jumping from about US$4.4 billion today to roughly US$15 billion by 2025.

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