This may eventually turn out to be the biggest announcement for MGX Renewables Inc. (doing business as “Zinc8 Energy Solutions Inc.“; pending name change) on the road to commercialization of its low-cost, long-duration battery energy storage system. New York State appears to be the perfect place and the New York Power Authority the perfect partner to demonstrate the advantages of Zinc8‘s battery technology under real conditions.
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Today, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) issued a press-release announcing “a collaboration with a leading-edge energy storage company to develop a demonstration energy storage system, using new zinc-air energy storage technology, in New York State”.
“The project, selected as a winner through the NYPA Innovation Challenge, will have the ability to provide back-up power, help level grid demand, and move the state further toward a carbon-free electric grid supported by renewable energy resources”, the press-release stated. “The new technology storage system will help advance Governor Cuomo’s Green New Deal by helping to achieve the Governor’s aggressive energy storage goal of 3GW by 2030 and by supporting a nation-leading commitment of 100 percent electricity from zero carbon emission sources by 2040.”
New York State Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul commented in NYPA’s press-release today:
“Advancing innovation is key in New York State’s commitment to achieve carbon neutrality and invest in a clean energy future. This investment in long duration, low-cost energy storage technology will provide a boost to our clean energy economy, maximize the benefits of renewable resources, and help in our aggressive efforts to combat climate change.”
Founded in 1931 by Franklin D. Roosevelt, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) is the largest state-owned public power utility in the United States, owning and operating 16 power plants in concert with +1,400 miles of transmission lines.
Today’s announced Cooperation Agreement with the NYPA was achieved by Zinc8’s successful participation in the NYPA Innovation Challenge, launched last year by NYPA and the New York University Tandon School of Engineering’s Urban Future Lab (UFL). More than 60 business applicants entered the Challenge, designed to accelerate the commercialization of new technologies for the electricity grid to ensure an affordable and reliable renewable energy supply to New York State. The NYPA selected Zinc8’s battery technology to demonstrate energy storage and demand management that can help build longer duration flexibility (8 hours plus) into the grid and optimize the role storage resources play.
Pat Sapinsley, NYU Tandon’s Managing Director of Clean Tech Initiatives, said:
“We at the Urban Future Lab are delighted to help NYPA, one of the most innovative utilities in the country, to source innovative clean energy solutions for their grid.The selection of Zinc8 Energy Solutions illustrates how important and effective a public-academic collaboration like the NYPA Innovation Challenge can prove. By awarding this contract, New York State is not only accelerating its own clean-energy future but building confidence in the clean-power industry overall.”
Start-ups know that sealing the first major utility deal is not only difficult but also the most important as it sets the stage for possible future deals. Now having that first major deal under its belt with such a high-level collaborator, Zinc8 is on the fast-track to demonstrate the performance and advantages of the zinc-air energy storage system under real conditions. The NYPA has the technical know-how and resources to potentially achieve this goal as quickly as possible.
Ron MacDonald, Zinc8‘s CEO and President, explained in today‘s news:
“This collaboration with the New York Power Authority is a milestone in Zinc8 Energy Solutions’ path to full commercialization and underscores the growing demand for low-cost reliable long-duration energy storage. This unique opportunity with NYPA not only helps Zinc8 contribute to the rapid advancement of clean energy in New York State, but also opens the door for Zinc8 to deploy its technology into the broader utility market.”
Gil Quiniones, NYPA’s CEO and President, added:
”NYPA is pleased to be working with Zinc8 on an innovative technology that can help achieve the state’s targets for energy storage and have broad impacts across New York State. This collaboration will showcase a low-cost, long duration solution that addresses the unpredictability of renewable energy resources, such as wind and solar, and offers environmental and efficiency benefits.”
As per the press-release, NYPA “will support the development, fabrication and installation of the storage unit at commercial scale over a three-year period”. The proposed 100kW/1MWh behind-the-meter energy storage system is expected to be installed at a demonstration site in Western New York State. NYPA is actively investigating potential sites, such as a municipal building or a building on a college campus or university that would benefit from the demonstration of this technology. The final demonstration site is expected to be set in the first quarter of 2020. Zinc8 and NYPA see this initial collaboration and installation as “a reference site” for possible future installations that may further demonstrate Zinc8’s technology through NYPA’s wide variety of customers in microgrid, commercial and industrial, and utility markets. According to a separate news-release from Zinc8 today, the Cooperative Agreement stipulates that the NYPA commits a total of $2.55 million USD to the project over a 3-year period.
As per the article “How NYPA Is Taking ‘First Mover’ Position on EVs, Energy Storage and the Digital Grid“ (2018):
“As the largest state-owned public utility in America, in one of the most progressive states in the country, the New York Power Authority doesn’t have the option of taking a ‘wait and see‘ approach on cleantech. Plus, NYPA’s business model enables it to invest in and deploy new technologies in bold ways, according to President and CEO Gil Quiniones. New York’s investor-owned utilities are also deploying innovative technologies. But NYPA can generally take more risks and move faster because it doesn‘t have to go through the Public Service Commission’s regulatory process. ‘We tend to be able to be the first mover and the first tester of new initiatives‘, Quiniones said.“
NYPA and Zinc8 want to collaborate in this joint development project to help advance New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Green New Deal by achieving the energy storage goal of 3GW by 2030 and by supporting a nation-leading commitment of 100% electricity from emission-free sources by 2040.
While Cuomo called New York State’s version of the Green New Deal as ”The most aggressive in the country”, Miles Farmer, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said “It’s definitely the most progressive bill that we’ve seen anywhere“. Bloomberg added: “Exactly how New York will pull off such an ambitious plan remains to be seen“. Zinc8 – a developer and manufacturer of long-duration, low-cost zinc-air energy storage solutions – aims to play a major role in achieving this goal, with NYPA hoped to be the perfect partner to do so.