The New Normal for the Grid: Batteries
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I'm stephen lacey your host in a contributing editor at g._t._m. Welcome this week. In nearly every corner of the country energy storage projects are finding their way onto the grid getting bigger cheaper more diverse and even a little bit weirder most of all. They're just becoming normal. We are gonna talk about the new normal for power operations nations and they include a lot of batteries and maybe some air tanks water pumps and cranes to we're starting with around up with the most topical projects that tell us something unique about outwear storage is headed then we'll look at one novel approach a gravity based system from energy vault that just got a major injection of japanese venture dollars and finally will look look at all the other alternatives to lithium ion that are vying for traction in the market catherine hamilton of thirty eight north is my coho. She's in the remote adirondack region in of new york this week again new mic in hand after <hes> hers broke minutes before recording last week. How are we doing catherine doing great. Thank you for getting amazon to send it to me so evidently amazon amazon truck took a look at our driveway through the stuff out the window and backed out. I would have had a fit if i'd seen that. I knew you what i did. I didn't wanna tell you jigger is an iceland this week. Filling in for him is the fabled the preeminent the unrivaled julian specter julian is a staff writer at green tech media in a periodic guest on our podcasts julian welcome. You just moved to l._a. How does it compare so far to the bay area so i always thought i was gonna be like a northern california and hurt but <hes> southern california's really <hes> going on strong. I think the sunshine is nice is the clear blue skies. The sunsets are amazing. <hes> and there's so much good food down here and a lot of you know grid decarbonisation. His asia efforts underway so that's exciting too. I saw in july that the l. a. department of water and power signed a major deal for solar with batteries for one point nine cents per kilowatt hour. Are you just packing up your belongings and following the cheapest projects around the country yep. Yes <hes> left p._g. Territory for l._a. D._w._p. and and <hes> you know haven't looked back yet. Well that <hes> that l. A. project is just one of many turning heads in the u._s. And around the world it's abundantly clear that storage storage and when we say storage were talking mostly about lithium ion batteries at this point is emerging as a viable alternative to traditional power plant development were talking mostly about replacing racing expensive peaking power plants but bulk power could be within sight and both katherine and julia following these trends so jillian to your reporting. I <hes> for the last few years we've had a handful of conversations pointing out how serious utilities and developers were starting to take storage when you think about the kind of stuff that you're reporting on now what makes twenty nineteen unique so far in your experience yeah so we've come a long way since i walked into the green tech beanie the office over three years ago and and i don't know if you remember i as you said hey we want you to report on energy storage and that kind of like doc okay. I'll see if there's any stories to rate on that and you know from the days of little pilots tiny things or a lot of forward-looking <hes> kind of policy stories of hey. Maybe one day soon. This target will lead to a thriving storage market. The last few months have just been boom time of of <hes> massive projects really all over the country <hes> so all the news i've been working on in in the recent months is really led me to believe that sturges his already competing more effectively and more places than a lot of people realize yeah i spent some time talking to the folks at fluence and they said exactly that at that the deals are getting much bigger so there three hundred or four hundred megawatt deals generally now and that utilities are really taking on more than those pilots so utilities are taking big positions on storage and really building it into the way they're thinking about their planning so i wanna talk about some of the the specific deals and again what they tell us about what's working and what's of interest for utilities and developer's what makes economic sense so let's start i with <hes> investor owned utilities any project standout to you that i owe us have procured this year that <hes> indicate where the market is headed yeah well. There's a few that have really taken the mantle of leadership on this <hes> i mean in california they had had to there is a law requiring them to buy storage <hes> but <hes> and interesting when you look at his arizona where arizona public service which is the biggest biggest i._o._u. There has essentially decided to pair all their utility scale solar with batteries and they <hes> you know talk about this solar after sunset plan to <hes> utilize the super cheap desert solar power they have but but make it available in the in the evenings and at night and <hes> that really started in two thousand eighteen when i solar <hes> won a competitive bid to deliver five hours of evening peak power in the summertime in they beat gas plants for that so that was in two thousand eighteen in any any type of research could compete but the combination the nation of really cheap solar with the lithium ion pricing that they could muster <hes> was already out competing <hes> guess peekers and since then a._p._s. has really double down and they're looking at like you know gigawatt hour scale of of storage roll out complicated a little bit by the <hes> the the fire at one of their early battery facilities in april which is still the cause of that's still being investigated but <hes> they have said that they're still really bullish on batteries is a a really effective part of the grid yen julian with <hes> envy energy right next door to arizona nevada was looking at this hulking lee a big project with twelve hundred megawatts of solar and six hundred ninety megawatts of storage that was also pretty impressive yeah and another important one to look look at his excel energy which covers eight states in the midwest and the west notably colorado and minnesota and they've they've famously committed two hundred percent clean energy of several decades out but <hes> by twenty thirty they wanna get major carbon reductions actions i think eighty percent below their benchmark and <hes> they're already shutting down or initiating the shutdowns of coal plants and replacing facing them with wind and solar batteries <hes> and they've done the math and they think it <hes> it adds value to their shareholders and it keeps spur prices affordable for their customers while making the the power supply cleaner so that's a really important one to watch as far as for for profit companies seizing on this clean energy today <hes> not not just because it's like the right thing to do or they feel good about it but they they've actually made a very very clear economic case for it. They excel case study is an interesting one because they've said we think we have got the right mix of technologies to get us to eighty percent carbon free electricity but the last twenty percent relieving open and we're trying to figure out how we get there. Maybe at some technology that we are not even thinking about today. Maybe it's a variation thereof of <hes> when you think about their plans to get from eighty two hundred percent carbon-free electricity. Where do you think storage will fit into that well. Actually i think it's helpful to understand where to stay fit in to that. I eighty percent and then do they say much about where storage might fit into that last twenty percent yes so i think <hes> <hes> as a general observation. I think they're being very honest. Inet framing they're saying a we know how to build cheap wind and solar and batteries in the next decade. There's a lot of room to just crank on that but we don't think that'll get us all the way so you know lithium ion they can do for our nation and i'm sure we'll get into longer durations in the next few years but no one's really expecting getting that to to manage say a week of of storage or even month you know few if you're trying to balance seasonal swings in a solar availability ear wind so i think they're they're being direct about that of saying we we know how to you know push the current technologies as far as we can push them and then we're going to need something else in the next ten years or beyond to <hes> take to fully cleaned grid and what i would just just observe about that. Is you know we're in a capitalist system. <hes> people do things that they think they can earn a return on and up until this point there was it's really no way to make money on super long duration storage like that that just wasn't a good place for private actors to invest their their money in in hopes of a return <hes> but now we have all these states sending sending very strong policy signals in fact requiring <hes> fossil fuels else to be eliminated from from the power grid <hes> and that's a very good reason to to start investing so i i would just say <hes>. I don't think think we should be scared about that uncertainty. I think it's <hes> <hes> making the case that hey ten years twenty years. That's a lot of time time and when you have the best minds in in the biggest companies really tackling that problem head on <hes>. We're going to find some things that have emerged so far. I think another thing that folks like fluence are looking at are all source procurement so as utilities began to define nine more what they need much more specifically based on when they need certain services at certain times of day rather than we just need x. Gigawatts all the time they're being much more sophisticated about when they need things and if they do in all sorts procurement then renewables and storage pencils out a lot of the time time and <hes> they're finding certainly renewable energy developers they're all looking at pairing storage with whatever they develop and and about fifty percent of those pencil out with no problems so part of this is a utility is being able to define better what they need and then allowing everybody to compete for it and into round out the discussion on the other end of the spectrum you've gotta utility like dominion energy in the southeast and they're trying to build pilot storage projects and then study them for a number of years so you've got a bunch of utilities who have a decade or more experience with storage have studied this stuff and are now <hes> procuring hearing <hes> you know hundreds of megawatts gigawatts of capacity <hes> why is dominion like so cautious on that end of the spectrum they're just they're trying trying to figure out if it works for them. Yeah i would say this. It's not just a dominion thing reflects. The <hes> fractured nature of our utility early regulatory system that state by state you can have utilities in one state you know really pedal to the metal going all all out <hes> on hundreds of megawatts megawatts of storage procurement today for commercial use that they're very confident and then utilities and other parts of the country not doing anything along which is still the case for many of them or saying we want to get involved in a very small way so <hes> as recently as last year a covered covered dominions <hes> integrated resource plan so their their long-term plan for the future acknowledged that battery storage was an emerging technology but didn't never any any plans on the books to do anything with it then just recently they announced that they do want to build some pilots <hes> it's it's gonna be for small ones totally eighteen megawatts and they're gonna test things like ken storage shift solar power so you can use it in <hes> in the evening or kin storage defer substation upgrades which ensure listeners will notice his has. It's been done elsewhere many times but i talked to dominion. They said you know it's one thing to know that it can work but to gain that firsthand experience agreeance is really valuable and so we want to test it out for ourselves and get familiar with it so you know i think there there is an argument therapy. It is kinda funny looking from the outside at least in seeing just how different utilities can <hes> approach the the exact axiom technology in the exact same uses of that technology. Catherine is that reflective of the broader industry. I actually think they are behind and they are slow slow. I mean you look at f- p._n._l. Which has traditionally been really dragging its feet on solar in particular and they just announced this four hundred nine megawatt awad managing energy storage center <hes> a few weeks ago and so i actually think dominion is going to quickly learn that these tiny pilots that they're proposing are going to work and then they'll be able to open up the market because they will see economic benefits by making storage edge really be part of their entire plan and i think it's worth noting that in the in the regulated utility environment <hes> you know they make a return on building stuff stuff and if they can pitch their regulators on hey we want to build this innovative thing that helps us integrate clean energy you know isn't that a win win and <hes> it it could become a real cash generator for them if they figure out how to <hes> position it the right way and i think florida power and lights probably in that bucket you know they are very good at <hes> you know making what they want happen and they decided at four hundred nine megawatt battery to display some some older guests. <hes> resources was something they wanted to do and they're just going for it. The most interesting listing story and storage in my opinion is <hes> what's happening with municipal utilities. There are a handful of cities municipal utilities that own and operate really dirty old gas peaker plants and they're they're trying to figure out what kind of resources they can use to phase those plants out because they're already retiring or they're trying to retire them early. A what is happening in that realm and wears storage being integrated yet. The municipals have really taken a leadership stance on on storage as well. I think it's important to note the governance structure here so instead of owing <hes> you know owing their loyalty to shareholders <hes> on wall street or wherever they report to the city to the community where are they operate and <hes> that i think aligns incentives in a in a really powerful way and also they have flatter hierarchies so they can if they wanted to do something they can move a lot more quickly on it <hes> so just in the last few months <hes> a municipal in glendale lyndale not far from where i live <hes> went through a very dramatic reversal where a year ago they'd been on the cusp of approving a new guest pekar for it was gonna cost five hundred million dollars and it was actually just have a it was a super backup resource so in case. It's not just one but two of their major power supplies were simultaneously interrupted. They wanted to have this this backup plan but it's going to be hugely expensive expensive <hes> and activists in the community push to stop it in this dramatic late night city council meeting the city council voted to pause and examined clean alternatives and the utility you know went and did that and came back <hes> and just a a few weeks ago announced a totally different plan where they're <hes>. They're buying large batteries. They're contracting with sun run for distributing batteries in homes <hes> as well as some energy efficiency and then a few words silla r- engines that are much smaller units that can fire up very quickly in and they scrapped the <hes> the gas plan altogether so i think that might be the fastest energy transition i've seen in a in a discreet company and it was really because the was answering the call they heard from the city's leadership and the community at large is some of that because with municipalities based on their bond rating they can get lower cost of capital investment well. I don't know if that was really a driver of this. One i mean they were. They were gonna take out a bond on the gas plant that had been proposed and then they would have been paying that off for years and years <hes> so oh i didn't say kind of financing as a as a reason for for going forward with the clean energy portfolio i think is is really a case if they'd been looking at the problem through the old lends of hey if we need capacity we need a gas plant and the planning for this started you know five years years ago and so then when they played that new lens like you were saying about going for the all source competitive solicitations they realize oh actually there's all all these other tools out there now that are commercially ready and <hes> quite competitive economically so they can really more efficiently allocate their capital all with whatever bond they take out right yeah exactly and <hes> so it's actually it's saving them. Money compared to the gas plant and then there's the benefit of it won't just be sitting idle you know waiting for not one but two major power sources to get knocked out all the batteries can be operating daily the and you know providing services and generating value for for the community so <hes> pretty pretty exciting case study of you. You know what can happen when you expand your your mindset around how to address grid <hes> needs a lot of these projects are competing with peaking gas plants and the question is when we're gonna get round the clock <hes> renewable electricity with storage that can start to knock off book power book gas delivery. What kind of projects are you seeing in this area and are we anywhere close to getting beyond the pekar. There is a very exciting exciting project out of oklahoma <hes> that <hes> knicks stare is building for the western farmers electric cooperative and this is a wind plus solar plus storage deal <hes> it'll be the largest of its kind in in the country and <hes> it it started life as they needed capacity and they realized that the solar battery combination would be cheaper than a gas plant and being cooperative. It's similar similar to the municipal structure in that. It's it's locally run and you know the the community likes cleaner air <hes> so they the decided to go with that and then through in the wind you know because it was cheap and it's integrate <hes> wind resource area <hes> and this is you know it's not <hes> <hes> baseload plant but it is a new type of resource. I think where you you're in the daytime solar production with win that is largely blowing at night and then have a very large battery in between to kind of tied tied over the the gaps between those two <hes> <hes> and so you know it's not it's not exactly the same as a fully dispatch apple baseload plant but <hes> compared to just win by itself for solar by itself it it really does feel like a new type of tool for for turning renewables into more of a round the clock resource then also speaks to this kind of system as a transmission asset which is kind of the next big play i think and would happening in germany and chile and some other places is like <hes> complementary data transmission but certainly allowing some time for transmission to be built by building these other projects totally and i talked to developers about this and they a a point to that transmission value is a huge driver for specifically for these hybrid plants because the ideas you don't wanna be shipping your wind when pricing pricings gun negative and you know or maybe there's more power to generate than you have <hes> an interconnection agreement for and so the battery lets that's you store that and parcel it out over more hours of the day and <hes> really just make better economic use of the kind of bandwidth that that you've you've contracted for on the grid so to finish up. You'll know i always say energy. Storage is the bacon of the grid but i saw recently chris shelton information. It's not just the bacon. It's the full entree now so i think that's what lance telling us the whole hog pushing those metaphors to to new heights or depths apps. We're going to take a quick. Pause here to talk about our sponsor. Son grow son grow has eighty two gigawatts converters to put across across the globe and it's now expanding rapidly in the u._s. It has more than one and a half gigawatts projects booked in two thousand nineteen zone speaking of novel projects one one of sun grows projects the twenty seven megawatt facility for the navajo tribal utility authority and that's going to double the amount of solar power that the navajo nation has in k a into. It's also going to replace a coal plant. That's closing later. This year clan to to is going to be in critical power to the navajo nation where fifteen thousand people live without regular access to power excess solar is also going to be sold back to the grid to earn money for the navajo nation. Sandro is not just focused on solar power. It is focused on storage very relevant to today's discussion. It's storage and integrated into two hundred megawatt hours worth of battery projects across the u._s. Check out more about what son grows up to at solar power are international in salt lake this september at booth to two one one or go to sun gro power dot com just a quick note before we get into the second half of the show we had a little technical glitch where both our source file and our backup file failed <hes> and that meant that catherine had to drop off at the very end of the show so you're going to hear her in the second segment but then in the third segment. You'll just hear me julian either way. It's a great conversation but just wanted to give you a heads up. That's why <hes> it's only two of us. At the end of the podcast enjoy. Let's shift our attention to a non battery technology that suddenly capturing string people's attention gravity storage no. I'm not talking about pumped hydro. I'm talking about a tower made out of concrete bricks. It relies on the the same physics and engineering as pump hydro. A company called energy vault picked up one hundred ten million dollars from the venture arm of japanese company. <hes> softbank softbank is massive conglomerate that owns or has a financial stake in sprint in yahoo japan in the robot company boston dynamics a whole host of companies. It's executive type pretty big game about becoming a renewable energy powerhouse but it hasn't delivered on that promise but now it's exploring storage so what is it about energy vault at attracted softbank and will this novel form of gravity storage work julian who is energy vault in what is this form of storage that it's trying to commercialize yes so energy full <hes> burst onto the scene last fall at energy storage north america <hes> they are the kind of company that <hes> flies in the face of pretty much everything i've i've learned covering the energy storage market in the last few years <hes> it it is time when lithium ion is accounting for more than ninety nine percent of installations in the u._s. In the first quarter this year <hes> and and <hes> there's so much momentum behind that they are doing completely unprecedented type of storage so like you said they <hes> stack large blocks with a specialized crane that has six arms and <hes> some some machine vision an algorithm so that it can operate on its own so autonomous crane about thirty five stories high <hes> that's picking up these blocks that are each which <hes> about thirty five metric tons and <hes> so when it has extra power from you know winder solar they lift the blacks up and stack them into into a tower round the crane and win. You want to discharge you grab the blocks in drop them down and it regenerates the power and <hes> so their the goal is to pair with renewables and offer twenty four seven clean energy <hes> for price. That's cheaper than in the fossil fuel equivalent as i'm hearing you describe this. I'm getting like a warning bell buzzing in my head because i've seen so many companies with these extremely extremely capital intensive materials intensive technologies that just don't have much room for cost reduction and <hes> you know you look at all the variations nations of solar that just got destroyed by p and you know. I can't see how you can squeeze a lot of costs out of this. Maybe the crane design so <hes> it. It just doesn't seem crazy to you. I would say there's very good reason to have those warning bells going off <hes> the last few years we've seen so how many startups that were taking a an unconventional approach to storage eventually fail and run out of money and <hes> you know not get to market and in particular there there have been a string of <hes> gravity based storage companies that have have not taken off <hes> even a a predecessor to this one <hes> the they both came out of the idea lab which is bill grosses incubator in pasadena <hes> there's one called energy cash that it was lifting weights up in client on kind of a ski lift and they they built a small pilot and it was largely the same pitch pitches punch hydros great but you can't build it everywhere so let's kind of make product that replicates that concept in in a in a more widely <hes> deliverable way <hes> what energy vote is doing differently is p. backing <music> on existing supply change from other industries so i pose that exact question to c._e._o. Robert coney and he said yeah you know in the past <hes> gravity companies have been trying to create their own technology <hes> wholesale and what we're doing is using cranes which there's a there's a very robust supply around the world for cranes <hes>. They've partnered with companies like g._e. For the motors that will spin and generate power so that's that's not a not technology risk for them. They've put their own i._p. Into the algorithms is to guide the crane in that's actually fairly complicated because it has to account for wind and whether interference and you're moving super heavy objects through space at high speed so not not a simple thing but the other big place where they've developed their own i._p. Is actually on the bricks themselves. They partnered with the mexican concrete <hes> conglomerates semtex and have really been working non low-cost composite materials so the ideas that you'll actually mind the soil and rocks on site where you're trying minded build the plant and then through a new process that they've created with <hes> the materials scientists at x. <hes> you use build a kiln on site and pump out bricks on sate without having to transport them so you know lithium ion is a is a mass produced mass manufactured products product. That's piggybacking on the electric vehicle supply chain but <hes> this will be constructed real power plant <hes> but their their your hope is that by using existing materials that are widely available and then <hes> producing bricks that are that are very low cost or even in using like waste rebel from <hes> other sites where they could. Maybe get paid to take that waste that they that they're going to keep the costlo slow yeah. I'm sorry to be a fuddy-duddy. It just seems complicated <hes> and it doesn't your rights. Even it doesn't seem like you could get that that much cheaper and and that there are ways where there's this company gravity trysofi which is like a clock weight using existing mineshafts where you're using in gravity but you're going down into existing holes. It seems like it would be easier to fall than it would be to construct something and then deconstructed. I dunno i watched every single video available on youtube for energy vault and i still couldn't figure out you know exactly what the value add would be if something like this <hes> but you know i'm i'm all for trying new technologies. I just this one seems a bit of a stretch well. Is it going to be cited with renewable energy or is it just taking grid electricity and hoping that the electricity system itself is cleaned up over time they talk about <hes> several different use cases <hes> a big one is citing it alongside wind and solar plants. Let's first announced project is with taipower company in india's which is a huge renewables developer birther among other forms of power that they produce <hes> but the they also talk about it as an off grid asset <hes> and powering factories industrial facilities even desalination plants <hes> so the idea is any any place that you need constant round round the clock power but you wanna get clean or or if you're off grid <hes> doing some sort of industrial process in the renewables are much much cheaper than diesel. <hes> those are those are markets. They're trying to target as well so catherine. It sounds like you and i are skeptical. Borderline cynical kohl julian your natural skeptics journalist covering this stuff. Can we compare this with pumped hydro. I think <hes> you know it's important to recognize pumped hydros the great unsung hero of the grid. It's ninety seven percent of of u._s. Crude storage that it's almost impossible to build any new <hes> it rations of a recently right about a project in montana that a a group called absa roca energy is developing <hes> <hes> they have financing from the copenhagen infrastructure partners and they have all their permits. They're looking for a customer <hes> but they've i've been working on that for ten years and when you factor in the time to construct assuming they do find a partner to the off taker <hes> maybe a fifteen ear development cycle so that's really the main hang up <hes> and i should note that one is a it's not attached to any existing river or water system. They're they're building. These contained lined reservoirs. <hes> so it's <hes> it's not influencing existing ecosystems in the way that the the the old dams would <hes> so. I think energy volts really trying to fill the gap for nearer term long-duration storage <hes> you know if you don't wanna wait ten or fifteen years <hes> they want to offer you something in the near term <hes> <hes> and i should say they <hes> told me that they're on track to complete two full size plants this year <hes> the the one for todd and then in another demonstration project in italy and they hinted that there's other projects that have not been made public yet <hes> so the the time from you know having the permits and having the land to getting all the getting all the equipment on site and building it <hes> robert robert says about six to eight months <hes> construction time so that's that's the clear benefit compared to pumped hydro. Is you know if you can get one of these up been running in less than a year <hes>. That's a that's a lot faster than a decade or more. Have they built one yet so the have if one that's a a scale model at one seventh scale model. That's <hes> been operating in switzerland since last year <hes> and then these two <hes> plants that i mentioned are going to be <hes> supposedly coming online this year. I guess the final question is one that we haven't addressed yet and probably the most most important one for many of our listeners. What does it cost. What is it gonna cost to build. These projects were kind of price. Can they deliver so the company insists that they can sell will today at two hundred dollars per kilowatt hour in the in the upfront capital expense <hes> which is really cheap for long long-duration <hes> the wood mackenzie calculations on utility scale lithium ion systems are in the range of four hundred fifty to five hundred fifty dollars per kilowatt kilowatt hour today <hes> so this is you know half of that enabled to go for many more hours than lithium ion systems do <hes> and they also stressed that over twenty five year lifetime they of course say that the system does not degrade <hes> in the way that lithium ion does <hes> pretty much every company building lithium ion alternative says they they have no degradation of course these haven't been in the field for twenty five years so flag that for for for follow up in a few decades <hes> but yeah they say that the level is cost is gonna be super cheap. <hes> you know talking about three to seven incense per kilowatt hour <hes> which would just blow out really any any other storage options out there <hes> mm-hmm now as a journalist. It's it's hard to good too good to be great yeah. It's hard for me. You know i'm not in the in the room contracting and doing the deals <hes> so so i think we'll have to wait and see if the customer uptake <hes> follows from that <hes> and with the one hundred ten million dollars behind them from softbank they'll be able to <hes> really scale their global sales operation and get going doing. I think another risk factor is they haven't built a full commercial system as far as we know <hes> and now at this money coming in they're they're looking at scaling globally while still getting the market with their their initial products in that strikes me as a as a challenge 'cause you you know often in the past companies takes years to to really to their their storage device and <hes> and then go go to market but then again you know the flow battery people have been at it for years and haven't really made it past that hurdle of the small scale tests so <hes> it could be that <hes> <hes> this is the kind of ambition. That's needed to make <hes> dispatch clean energy a reality well. That's a good place to kick off our last segment very relevant to the energy vault conversation. I want to look at the many alternatives to lithium ion batteries that companies are trying to deploy and develop l. up. Lithium ion doesn't dominate the storage market. It practically is the storage market you said ninety nine percent of systems being installed today use some variation of a lithium ion chemistry but there's an increase interest among investors and inventors in diurnal and seasonal storage and so power to gas new baddest. Ah battery chemistries pumped hydro things like gravity storage. They're getting a fresh look. Which is why the one hundred and ten million dollars from softbank does tell us something about investor interest. 'em sort of a bullishness on the need for long-term <hes> long duration storage so julian for awhile. Everyone was talking about flow batteries batteries as you said as the longer duration solution. Is that still the case so there are still flow battery companies in existence. The ranks of thinned don't considerably over the last few years and i i would say that in general the expectations have been tempered a bit there. There's a lot of big promises. <hes> you know five or ten years ago and there have been companies that have gotten units out into the field but it's it's still a very very small scale. I think <hes> the the exception to that would be avalon. <hes> is a is a flow battery company that partnered with next trekker on this solar solar plus storage <unk> tracker system or they're. They're pumping out the batteries on the the actual tracking device and that's given them some some considerable scale relative to the to the other companies that are really going small project by small project. Why do we even need alternatives to lithium ion batteries if if they're getting so much cheaper so much more dense and they can do more on the grid we'll even people who are very bullish about. Lithium ion acknowledged that in the long term berm. There's a there's a floor price baked in just from the cost of materials and <hes> that's not really an issue in your looking at shifting <hes> solar power within the day for a few hours but if we're trying to run an entire grid on clean energy you have to do weeks and and seasons <hes> when you shift from sunny season to a to a rainy season and once you push out the timeline for for that much storage ridge really i. I don't know anyone who thinks lithium is the ideal economic fit for that so what stands out to you as has the areas that are getting the most attention in long duration storage. I think there's not one clear winner. That's emerged. You know all these technologies. I really need to be vetted in the market but a change i've noticed in the last year or so is that people are actually moving forward at scale with with <hes> long-duration projects that are not lithium ion <hes> i mentioned the <hes> the pumped hydro one and in montana <hes> <hes> there's also a company called higher power which does this cryogenic storage these super cool air in tanks and they're leveraging compressors and equipment from the oil and gas industry they recently signed a memorandum of understanding with tasca aska to develop what they called four giga scale cryogenic energy storage plants in the next couple of years <hes> and we've even seed laden <hes> a small resurgence in underground compressed air <hes> with this project in utah that would be using underground in salt caverns compressed air is like pumped hydro can store huge amounts at a very <hes> favorable economics but they've only. I've been like two projects in the last few decades so it's very hard to actually deliver but if it if it can happen you know that's great <hes> and i think all this points to <hes> there's finally a critical mass of renewables on the grid such that developers actually see potential here here and they <hes> you know in in the past clearly didn't see much of a driver to to get cracking on this kind of technology but people a <hes> are are moving ahead now right so the difference may not be that we see new dramatic leaps and technologies at the market need is changing. I would say so yeah <hes> and there's certainly plenty of technological innovation happening in labs that might trickle out in the next ten years or or more. We're but <hes> a lot of these are technologies that aren't particularly groundbreaking or you know far out <hes> but but it's just a matter of making the project economics work at scale and we're calling it there julian. Thank you for taking jaeger's chair while he was out gallivanting around the world. We appreciate it. This is a lot of fun and you know. There's even more storage news that we didn't have time to touch on so <hes> you know. Thanks for having me on soon enough enough. We'll have you back. I am stephen lacey. I was with katherine hamilton and gillian specter this week we are the energy gang follows on social media hit us up with any reactions to the stories that we discussed. Give us a rating review wherever you get your podcast and send a link to your friends and colleagues. Thanks for being with us. We will catch you next week <music>.