Innovation and sustainability: energy storage is going green

Published on Tuesday, 26 March 2019

There can be no sustainability without innovation and, equally, innovation has to be sustainable. This twofold approach is at the heart of Enel’s strategy to develop and promote projects that target a responsible use of resources, bringing together ecological, financial and environmental aspects in a circular economy approach.

These objectives are the basis of the agreement between Enel’s Global Thermal Generation business line and Northvolt, an innovative company founded in 2016 to build one of the largest European gigafactories for sustainable batteries, in Skellefteå, Sweden: a plant that will be created using only renewable energy sources, with an estimated production capacity of 32 GWh per annum from 2024.

The Northvolt model aims to change the paradigm in lithium battery management, by acting in a co-ordinated way along the entire value chain. The intention is to optimise the entire life cycle, through acquisition, monitoring and integrating data analysis, from mining and processing raw materials to the production and use of the batteries and then recycling the materials once the product’s useful life is over.

The intention behind our Group’s partnership with the young Swedish business is to work together to evaluate the financial, environmental and sustainability benefits of Northvolt’s technology on large-scale, stand-alone stationary applications and those integrated into power generation plants, sharing the experience and skills accrued by both enterprises in order to explore further business opportunities.

Energy storage is a flexible and essential solution for supplying network balancing services and for supporting the energy transition during a phase that is seeing an increase in the use of renewable sources like sun and wind, which are only able to generate power intermittently. This is why Global Thermal Generation is analysing every link in the storage value chain, from identification of the best technological solutions and their design, to testing the most efficient methodologies for use and maintenance through to the management of end-of-life.

Battery management is a particular priority when it comes to our Group’s circular approach. In fact, various business models are being studied as part of Enel’s strategy of shared value creation, analysing the environmental impacts, the effects on communities and economic feasibility. Just consider projects like Melilla Second Life, chosen as a “member initiative” by the World Economic Forum in 2019. The aim is to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that we have adopted, as quickly and efficiently as possible. This is the guiding principle behind innovation at Enel.