Quantum Graphite will incorporate the 50 per cent return from its new joint venture partner, Sunlands Co’s thermal storage media manufacturing business using Quantum’s flake graphite for assembly within its thermal energy storage cells. The technology is at the forefront of a blossoming ‘long-duration energy storage’ industry that is becoming central in providing stability and flexibility to energy grids increasingly reliant on renewable power.
Through its joint venture agreement with private group, The Sunlands Company, Quantum is seeking to manufacture thermal energy storage battery cells using graphite sourced from its Uley deposits on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia.
The main raw material for the manufacture of thermal storage media, which are inserted into the cells, is Uley 2 flake graphite with the entire production of thermal storage media to be sold to Sunlands.
Quantum has commissioned two discrete studies designed to determine the contribution of the joint venture to the Uley 2 project, a high temperature testwork study and a national electricity market study.
High temperature testing on various specifications of Uley 2 flake graphite is planned to be undertaken, including analysing thermodynamic capabilities for processing of the flake to produce thermal storage media. High temperature studies will be completed on an industrial scale and will enable the company to accurately estimate the costs of manufacture of this media. Quantum can then determine the unit contribution it will receive per tonne of media sold to Sunlands.
The second study is designed to estimate Australia’s National Electricity Market requirements for long duration energy storage with the storage solutions offered by Sunlands of specific interest. Results obtained from the study will help determine the quantity of thermal storage media required and ultimately the requisite production of Uley 2 flake.
One of the major national electricity market targets from its study will be retrofitting existing coal fired power stations with the Sunlands technology that represents significant global demand.
As the global shift to renewables continues to gather steam, several challenges related to the transition are also arising, according to the recently formed ‘Long Duration Energy Storage Council’, or “LDES Council”.
The LDES Council has identified three key challenges facing global economies as they pivot to an energy grid powered by renewable sources – balancing electricity supply and demand, change in transmission flow patterns and a decrease in system stability.
The Council is seeking to satisfy long-term energy system flexibility requirements that go beyond short-term solutions presented by alternative energy storage methods including lithium-ion batteries.
Thermal energy storage cells, or “TES” cells involve the temporary storage of energy that can be used for power generation at a later stage. It can be used to balance fluctuating energy demand associated with the variable nature of renewable energy generation.
Generally, solar and wind power generation is uneven across daily and seasonal timescales. Temporary storage from TES batteries could provide flexibility and stability to the overall energy system.
Under the agreement, Sunlands will contribute its processing technologies and provide flake specifications required for the final product sourced from Quantum’s graphite deposits at Uley.
According to the JV partners, the high-purity natural flake graphite at Uley is critical for Sunlands’ downstream processing and utilisation technologies to develop TES battery cells.
Quantum says the collaboration with Sunlands will enable it to move beyond just graphite production and into a more lucrative downstream processing operation.
An important aspect of these studies is quantification of the downstream value-add delivered by the joint venture to Uley 2 flake supplied by the Company. Not only does this provide us with an estimate of the return we should expect from the joint venture but it will demonstrate our participation in the emerging energy market segment of long duration storage.
LDES represents an emerging and important asset class in a global push toward a net-zero carbon emissions economy. These latest developments have thrust Quantum forward as a key player in the budding industry that already has the backing of some of the most influential people and companies in the world.
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