Houston-based Quidnet Energy is combining conventional pumped hydroelectric storage technology with existing drilling technology to provide long-duration energy storage for utilities and renewable energy developers.
Quidnet just secured $10 million in Series B financing and landed a contract with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) for a commercial demonstration of its technology, CEO Joe Zhou told Utility Dive in an interview this week. The NYSERDA project will evaluate the performance of the technology, the ability to tie it into the grid, and the quality of power generated, according to Zhou.
Long-duration storage will play a critical role in achieving renewables goals, according to experts.
“Given the variable availability of energy from renewable sources, it’s important to find new methods of long-term storage,” Nathanael Greene, senior renewable energy advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council told Utility Dive.
However, the demand or need for long-duration storage may not materialize for 10 to 20 years, according to an analyst with Wood Mackenzie Power and Renewable Energy.
“I don’t see a major demand for long-duration storage happening in this decade,” Daniel Finn-Foley, head of energy storage at Wood Mackenzie told Utility Dive. “These are investments with an eye on the horizon as opposed to immediate commercialization,” he continued.
Quidnet’s investors include Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Evok Innovations, Trafigura, and The Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham Environmental Trust. The NYSERDA project will be a 2 MW scale implementation of Quidnet’s technology.
Quidnet’s closed-loop, geomechanical pumped storage (GPS) method pumps water under pressure into subsurface wells that is then released as needed to drive turbines to generate electricity. Water collected in an on-site pond is then repumped into the well for ongoing storage.
“NYSERDA is interested in better understanding how Quidnet’s approach works in the geological formations common in New York,” a NYSERDA spokesperson told Utility Dive by email.
“Long-duration storage is anticipated to be part of the future energy system in New York. This demonstration project will also help prove the technical efficacy of this approach, provide greater clarity on the costs of this approach and help New York gain familiarity with the unique siting and permitting required for underground pumped storage,” according to NYSERDA’s spokesperson.
Zhou sees the NYSERDA project as commercial-scale demonstration of a single module that could be aggregated on a larger scale. Zhou compared aggregated GPS modules to an onshore wind farm that is an accumulation of tens to hundreds of individual wind turbines.
“We’re looking to demonstrate that one module that can be aggregated into fuller scale facilities. We’re demonstrating the building block at a commercial scale,” Zhou said.
“This project also will help set the development framework for future projects,” he continued. “How do we construct the leases? What do the permits look like?”