Eni pledges to become a leader in the energy transition
Italian oil & gas giant Eni has announced that it will be transforming its business to secure a prominent position in the energy transition.
Forming two new business units - ‘natural resources’ and ‘energy revolution’ - the company is seeking to develop a more efficient, sustainable and eco-friendly oil and gas portfolio in the former and research blue, green and biofuels in the latter.
This new vista forms the company’s long-term transformation goal for the next 30 years. Eni considers its combination of focused growth, financial value creation and sustainability goals to be a roadmap for success as the energy sector braces for 2050 and net-zero carbon.
A new direction
Claudio Descalzi, CEO, emphasised that Eni’s new direction was a watershed moment for the company and, as a leading brand, potentially the industry too:
“This new structure reflects Eni’s pivot to the energy transition. An irreversible path that will make us leaders in decarbonized energy products. With our new Plan [...] we have set our path for the next 30 years, as of today it is unique in our industry.
“The reorganisation also involves the corporate structures, which will evolve, continuing to be the central reference point for strategic and control processes, providing effective support to meet the business groups’ objectives,” he said.
What is particularly striking about Eni’s new direction is the reliance on leveraging industrial technology to effect change. As such, a new function (Technology, R&D and Digital) has been created to develop innovative solutions in-house with greater speed and at scale.
Launching research projects across its value chain and utilising scientific and technical expertise, the company will push for increased safety standards, operational efficiency and quality in its overall delivery.
The fight against climate change
One of the primary motivators of change for Eni is undoubtedly a desire to mitigate the environmental effects of the energy industry, particularly oil & gas.
The efficiency-driven mission of its ‘natural resources’ unit is likely to be an improvement, but it is the ‘energy evolution’ unit which is arguably the more exciting; researching, developing and marketing a new frontier of renewable and biomethane energy types.
Furthermore, Eni will expand its retail portfolio of these alternative fuels, therefore increasing their availability to individual consumers and enterprises in an integrated, large-scale market.
“The fight against climate change and promotion of sustainable development are recognised by governments, civil society, investors and business alike as priorities for global development,” concluded Descalzi.
“Only those who pursue these in an innovative way will create value in the long term. We want to be main actors in a Just Energy Transition, in which we believe, and is central to Eni’s transformation.”
Form Energy receives funding power for 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.