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Altech battery plant cuts through German red tape

Altech Batteries has cut through the red-tape with its planned 100MWh battery project in Saxony, Germany. Credit: File

Altech Batteries has notched up a win that will see permitting for its 100MWh battery project in Germany go through State approval, bypassing the more complex federal process and expediting its mission.

In the green heart of the European subcontinent, the approval process for construction and operation in Germany is determined by environmental risk impacts, with most projects falling under the jurisdiction of the German Federal Immission Control Act, known as BimSchG, for Federal approval.

Altech says it has diligently checked all the boxes and provided the necessary documentation required for the permitting and licensing application. It is a painstaking effort, but is now set to pay dividends in more ways than one.

Owing to its minimal environmental and community impact, Federal regulators have concluded that the company’s Cerenergy battery project in Schwarze Pumpe in Saxony is a “manufacturing installation” and falls under the State approval process. Giving a clear thumbs up to the project, the Saxony State Government has set up an inter-ministerial task force dedicated to assisting Altech in expediting the approval process.

Altech has a joint venture (JV) agreement with world-leading German battery institute Fraunhofer IKTS to commercialise its revolutionary Cerenergy sodium chloride solid state (SCSS) battery. Touted as the game-changing alternative to lithium-ion batteries, Altech’s battery technology substitutes humble table salt in place of lithium, cobalt, graphite and copper, eliminating exposure to critical metal price rises and supply chain concerns.

The JV duo shares plans to construct a 100MWh production facility on Altech’s land in Saxony. That plant will produce Cerenergy battery modules destined to provide storage solutions to the burgeoning grid power storage battery market.

We are pleased to have initiated the licensing application for our 100MWh CERENERGY battery project so early. Considering that we only executed the joint venture agreements with Fraunhofer IKTS about 12 months ago, this is a tremendous achievement. Our approach of being dynamic, quick moving and to run things concurrently, puts Altech in good stead to complete the DFS and continue the financing process. Altech Batteries managing director Iggy Tan

The company is banking on countries such as Germany needing reliable energy storage solutions to successfully transition to a “green” energy future utilising weather-dependent renewable energy sources including solar and wind.

Grid-scale storage, particularly batteries, will be essential to manage the impact on the power grid and handle the hourly and seasonal variations in renewable electricity generation, while keeping grids stable and reliable in the face of growing demand.

Enter Altech’s “ABS60” battery pack and its bigger ABS1000 grid-pack. The company says they are fireproof, boast all-weather applications and have a lifespan of more than 15 years – shadowing lithium-ion battery counterparts.

The ABS60 will weigh 800kg and measure 500mm-by-2330mm-by-1100mm. It will have a nominal energy capacity of 60KWh, a nominal voltage of 600V DC and a voltage range stretching from 4120V DC to 670V DC.

Following discussions with potential offtake partners, Altech launched the design of its 1MWh GridPack, ABS1000, aimed at larger-scale operations such as industrial power back-up and grid storage. It comprises 18 batteries in the size of a six-metre-high sea container and weighs less than 17 tonnes.

Altech says it has “negligible” maintenance costs, may lie idle for long periods of time, is able to start without any capability loss and comes as “plug and play” ready to operate.

In the global push to net-zero by 2050, the grid energy storage market’s combined annual growth rate is expected to grow by 28 per cent from US$4.4 billion (AU$6.9 billion) to US$15.1 billion (AU$23.8 billion) by 2027. From a storage perspective, demand is expected to grow from 20GW in 2020 to an astonishing 3000GW by 2050.

With a definitive feasibility study (DFS) in the pipeline for its Cerenergy battery project, Altech is on the front foot in initiating the permit and licensing process. Along with preventing any potential delays, the operating license will no doubt hold a good deal of swagger when the time comes to pass the hat around to fund the project.

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