The US-based Rondo Energy will use the world’s largest battery factory in Thailand, which is two and a half times the size of Tesla’s Gigafactory.
Rondo Energy, the developer of the Rondo Heat Battery, announced that it has partnered with Siam Cement Group to expand its factory to a capacity of 90 GWh. The factory in Thailand currently produces 2.4 GWh of industrial thermal batteries, and it is planned to expand it to become the world’s largest battery factory.
The company backed by Bill Gates developed its radiators as a way to reduce carbon emissions in industry. Dubbed a “brick toaster,” Rondo’s battery is made from readily available materials such as oxygen, silicon, aluminum, and iron. The battery stores electricity as heat in a refractory brick, a technique that has been used in industrial heat storage for centuries.
Heat radiators convert intermittent wind and solar energy into continuous high-temperature and affordable heat, which is required by industry. This planned production expansion is expected to support a wide range of industries, from mining and metals to fuels and food production at facilities around the world.
“Electrothermal energy storage can play a useful role in meeting the needs of industry, which has been slow to emit carbon dioxide. And from the point of view of energy security, it is worth noting that this technology avoids the use of scarce and expensive materials,” says Pavel Molchanov, an energy analyst at Raymond James.
Batteries store and transfer heat without burning substances, critical minerals or liquids. With the Rondo Heat battery, the sun and wind can produce continuous carbon dioxide-free industrial heat cheaper than fossil fuels, the company said.
The batteries can store more than 1 MWh per square meter, which is a high density that saves the use of industrial plant area. Rondo said the batteries can be integrated into existing process heating equipment, allowing for significant emissions reductions without factory maintenance. The batteries are expected to last at least 40 years without performance degradation.
Heavy industrial processes have proven to be one of the hardest sectors to decarbonize, accounting for about 24 percent of global emissions, according to Our World in Data. The planned capacity of 90 GWh is expected to reduce 12 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, equivalent to removing more than 4 million gas-powered vehicles from the road each year.
Rondo said its batteries provide continuous power at 95 percent annual capacity while operating at as low a 15 percent capacity factor, or four hours of dispatchable power generation per day.
“Our studies of customer facilities show that emissions are reduced by 50 to 90 percent and operating costs are reduced by 30 percent or more,” said Jeremey Keller, vice president of Rondo Energy.
At the beginning of 2022 Rondo Energy announced that it has closed a $22 million Series A funding round to support its technology, a renewable energy thermal battery that aims to reduce the carbon footprint of industrial processes. The financing round was led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Energy Impact Partners.
“Over the past several years, we have seen our founding vision solidify,” said John O’Donnell, CEO of Rondo Energy. “Removing industrial heat from coal is a multi-trillion dollar market that requires far more storage than the power grid. The technology is here now. The demand is here now. This planned expansion means that there is now capacity here as well.”