Zinc-air battery being deployed in New York aims for extremely low $45/kWh cost


New York state has signed a deal to procure a new 100 kW/1 MWh zinc-air battery from Canadian company Zinc8 Energy Storage. The energy storage facility will be installed behind-the-meter in an undetermined western New York site that can benefit from the hardware — such as a “municipal building or a building on a college campus or university.”

Zinc8’s CEO sees this system as being potentially upgraded to 1 MW in power over the next couple of years.

The company’s website claims it is aiming for an installation cost of $45/kWh. For comparison’s sake, Bloomerg NEF recently reported that battery prices have fallen 87%, from $1,100/kWh in 2010 to $156/kWh in 2019, with an expectation of nearing $100/kWh by 2023. Zinc8 stated that to reach those $45/kWh prices, the product needs to be sized with more than eight hours of capacity relative to its instantaneous power.

pv magazine USA has reached out to the company for details, however it has yet to respond.

The company’s website illustrates its three-part process of making/storing/delivering electricity:

  1. Power from the grid or a renewable source is used to generate zinc particles in the Zinc Regenerator. Oxygen is released to the atmosphere as a by-product.
  2. The zinc particles flow to the Storage Tank and are maintained in a potassium hydroxide electrolyte until required.
  3. When power is needed, the zinc particles are delivered to the Power Stack, and recombined with oxygen to generate electricity. The zinc oxide by-product is returned to the storage tank for later regeneration.

There is no reference to the electrical efficiency of the system — the amount of electricity needed to generate each kilowatt-hour of electricity that can later be extracted.

The company raised $500,000 last year. Days after its New York announcement, the firm announced an additional $3 million cash infusion. Zinc8 is not the only Canadian zinc-based energy storage firm raising cash — e-Zn just announced a $2.6 million seed round and a $1.5 million grant.

Zinc8 had produced 300 cathodes by September of last year, with each 5 kW-stack using 50 cathodes — and plans a scale-up of cathode production to 36 MW/year with a minimum storage of 8 hours of capacity. The company claims development work has begun on a 20 kW/160 kWh unit. Documents suggest a containerized unit “may be easily scaled to megawatt storage and output capacities.”

Zinc8’s website claims that $45/kWh is a viable potential cost for its hardware.

A smaller residential community system was announced in September of 2019. The 40 kW/160 kWh system is to be deployed in an award-winning architecturally designed home in South Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. Construction at the home is ongoing, with the energy storage system to begin its installation and commissioning in Q2/Q3 of this year. The below image is something very different than any home I’ve lived in — and the under-construction image on Instagram by the architect, is something to see.

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