Jan 6, 2021

Consortium fuels interest in Esmeraldas refinery revamp

ecuador
southamerica
Oil
Dominic Ellis
2 min
Hyundai Engineering Co, KBR Inc, Texas-based RGFx Initiatives and Energlobal Investment Group explore Ecuador's oil potential
Hyundai Engineering Co, KBR Inc, Texas-based RGFx Initiatives and Energlobal Investment Group explore Ecuador's oil potential...

A consortium comprising Hyundai Engineering, KBR Inc, RGFx Initiatives and Energlobal Investment Group has expressed an interest in a contract to renovate Ecuador’s 110,000bpd Esmeraldas refinery, according to the country’s energy minister.

Speaking on January 5, Energy Minister Rene Ortiz says the consortium plans to receive financing from Morgan Stanley and has until February to present a final bid for the project, according to a timeline presented by the energy ministry. 

The government is set to make a final decision on awarding the contract in March, ahead of an April signing. The deal is part of President Lenin Moreno’s efforts to boost private investment in Ecuador’s struggling economy.

Last year, Ortiz announced that the Ecuadorian government was searching for a private company to invest around $2.4 billion into the refinery, which is owned by PetroEcuador, the state-owned oil company.

Ecuador’s government aims to boost fuel output at the plant and help the cash-strapped South American country reduce its dependency on refined product imports.

President Lenin Moreno is set to leave office in May, following presidential elections next month.

Neither authorities nor representatives of the four companies who attended a press conference clarified how much the consortium expected to invest, or the fees the consortium would receive for eventually delivering refined products to the state for domestic sale.

The Esmeraldas refinery has been operating sporadically for many years as it has been beset with faulty maintenance issues. In July 2020, President Moreno granted exceptional authorisation for PetroEcuador, under decree 1904, to operate the refinery in conjunction with a private-sector partner.

The ministries of non-renewable natural resources, economy and finance were tasked with coming together to define the contractual mechanism for the investor, who would have to participate at its own risk to improve the refinery’s operations and the quality of fuel it produces.

"This is not a process of monetization, it is a process of transfer and delegation of part of the operations of the Esmeraldas refinery, which still belongs to the Ecuadorean state," oil Minister Rene Ortiz said in a statement at the time.

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Jul 26, 2021

Form Energy receives funding power for iron-air batteries

Energy
batteries
grid
Renewables
Dominic Ellis
3 min
Startup Form Energy receives $200 million Series D financing round led by ArcelorMittal’s XCarb innovation fund to further develop iron-air batteries

Form Energy believes it has cracked the conundrum of commercialising grid storage through iron-air batteries - and some of the biggest names in industry are backing its potential.

The startup recently announced the battery chemistry of its first commercial product and a $200 million Series D financing round led by ArcelorMittal’s XCarb innovation fund. Founded in 2017, Form Energy is backed by investors Eni Next LLC, MIT’s The Engine, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Prelude Ventures, Capricorn Investment Group and Macquarie Capital.

While solar and wind resources are the lowest marginal cost sources of electricity, the grid faces a challenge: how to manage the multi-day variability of renewable energy, even in periods of multi-day weather events, without sacrificing energy reliability or affordability.

Moreover, while Lithium-ion batteries are well suited to fast bursts of energy production, they run out of energy after just a few hours. Iron-air batteries, however, are predicted to have theoretical energy densities of more than 1,200 Wh/kg according to Renaissance of the iron-air battery (phys.org)

The active components of Form Energy's iron-air battery system are some of the cheapest, and most abundant materials: iron, water, and air. Iron-air batteries are the best solution to balance the multi-day variability of renewable energy due to their extremely low cost, safety, durability, and global scalability.

It claims its first commercial product is a rechargeable iron-air battery capable of delivering electricity for 100 hours at system costs competitive with conventional power plants and at less than 1/10th the cost of lithium-ion and can be optimised to store electricity for 100 hours at system costs competitive with legacy power plants.

"This product is our first step to tackling the biggest barrier to deep decarbonisation: making renewable energy available when and where it’s needed, even during multiple days of extreme weather, grid outages, or periods of low renewable generation," it states.

Mateo Jaramillo, CEO and Co-founder of Form Energy, said it conducted a broad review of available technologies and has reinvented the iron-air battery to optimise it for multi-day energy storage for the electric grid. "With this technology, we are tackling the biggest barrier to deep decarbonization: making renewable energy available when and where it’s needed, even during multiple days of extreme weather or grid outages," he said.

Form Energy and ArcelorMittal are working jointly on the development of iron materials which ArcelorMittal would non-exclusively supply for Form’s battery systems. Form Energy intends to source the iron domestically and manufacture the battery systems near where they will be sited. Form Energy’s first project is with Minnesota-based utility Great River Energy, located near the heart of the American Iron Range.

Greg Ludkovsky, Global Head of Research and Development at ArcelorMittal, believes Form Energy is at the leading edge of developments in the long-duration, grid-scale battery storage space. "The multi-day energy storage technology they have developed holds exciting potential to overcome the issue of intermittent supply of renewable energy."

Investors in Form Energy's November 2020 round included Energy Impact Partners, NGP Energy Technology Partners III, and Temasek.

In May 2020, it signed a contract with Minnesota-based utility Great River Energy to jointly deploy a 1MW / 150MWh pilot project to be located in Cambridge, MN. Great River Energy is Minnesota's second-largest electric utility and the fifth largest generation and transmission cooperative in the US.

Last week Helena and Energy Vault announced a strategic partnership to identify additional opportunities for Energy Vault’s waste remediation technologies as the company begins deployment of its energy storage system worldwide. It received new investment from Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures (SAEV) in June.

Maoneng has revealed more details of its proposed 240MWp / 480MWh Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula in Australia (click here).

The BESS represents hundreds of millions of dollars of investment that will improve electricity grid reliability and network stability by drawing energy from the grid during off-peak periods for battery storage, and dispatching energy to the grid during peak periods. 

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