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Australian News Update 1st April 2019

Posted by: Paul Harris
Industry News

Australia sees world's first working thermal battery

A local startup says it has built the world's first working thermal battery, a device with a lifetime of at least 20 years that can store six times more energy than lithium-ion batteries per volume, for 60-80% of the price.

Climate Change Technologies, also known as CCT Energy Storage, has launched its TED (Thermal Energy Device) with an impressive list of claims that promises cheap, eco-friendly, grid-scalable energy storage. TED is a modular energy storage unit that accepts any kind of electricity, including solar, wind, fossil fuel-generated or straight off the grid. It uses this energy to heat up and melt silicon in a heavily insulated chamber. Whenever that energy is required, it's pulled out with a heat engine. A standard TED box holds 1.2 megawatt-hours of energy, with all input and output electronics on board, and fits easily into a 20ft container.

TED can store more than 12 times more energy than a lead-acid battery, and several times more than lithium-ion solutions. Installations can scale from 5-kilowatt applications out to a virtually unlimited size. Hundreds of megawatts of instantly accessible and each TED device can remain active for about 48 hours. It can also charge and discharge at the same time.

CCT SEO Serge Bondarenko projects it'll cost only 60% of the price needed for an equivalent lithium-ion solution like Tesla's Powerpacks, while taking up a smaller footprint on the ground. TED can easily be adapted for earthquake-prone environments by installing it on a quake-proof platform, but in the event of a serious issue, Bondarenko says: “We just turn it off, and it cools down until it's ready to go again. It's very safe.”

CCT already has deals to provide TED devices, and has signed reciprocal manufacturing agreements. They also have exclusive rights to manufacture and sell the technology through Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands, with negotiations ongoing about adding other European countries to that list. 

Manufacture is set to begin this quarter, and Bondarenko says once the devices have been proven commercially, the company plans to ramp up rapidly and be ready to build 100-megawatt-plus installations within two years.

Solar, tidal and other renewable energy technologies are very effective at generating a lot of power, but only when it's available rather than on demand. However, grid-level energy storage solutions could store energy up during the solar peak of the midday heat, then return that power to the grid during peak load times in the evening when the sun's not shining, making renewables a truly 24-hour energy source. Full story.

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$2.1 billion for Victorian road and rail projects

The Federal Government has promised $2.1bn for transport infrastructure in Victoria, to help cater for the state's growing population.

The package in the budget includes $1.1bn to upgrade 13 arterial roads in Melbourne's north and south-eastern suburbs and will come in the form of extra lanes added to a number of roads, as well as surface improvements in Langwarrin South and a new bridge over a rail line in Dandenong South. A further $300m will go towards sealing approximately 1,600km of roads in the Dandenong Ranges area, which the Government said would ease congestion and improve fire safety. 

$700m will fund the South Geelong to Waurn Ponds rail upgrade, a joint federal and state government project in Victoria's Corangamite. 

Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population Minister Alan Tudge explained the funds would provide vital improvements to the rail line, which is currently at capacity. “We already have $150 million invested in that project to get the work underway,” he said. “This will enable the entire track to be fully duplicated from South Geelong to Waurn Ponds. That track is already at capacity because it's a single line.”

The funding adds to billions of dollars already promised by the Federal Government to infrastructure projects in Victoria, including $5bn towards the Melbourne Airport Link. Full story.

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