Flow battery firm ESS boosts top team

An ESS all-iron flow battery at the Stone Edge Farm advanced microgrid, in Sonoma County, California. Pic: ESS.

An ESS all-iron flow battery at the Stone Edge Farm advanced microgrid, in Sonoma County, California. Pic: ESS.

By Jason Deign

Portland, Oregon, USA-based flow battery maker ESS has brought in a company growth strategy master to chair its board of directors.

The all-iron flow battery manufacturer last week announced its chairman would be David Lazovsky, the former president and CEO of Intermolecular, which supports advanced materials.

The appointment comes seven months after the addition of Michael Niggli, former president and chief operating officer of San Diego Gas & Electric, to the ESS board.

Lazovsky founded NASDAQ-listed Intermolecular in 2004 and served as the company’s president and chief executive until to October 2014.

As president and CEO, Lazovsky led Intermolecular from early-stage start-up to a high-growth public company, said ESS in a press release. 

Senior management positions

Prior to founding Intermolecular, Lazovsky held several senior management positions at semiconductor equipment manufacturer Applied Materials.

From 1996 to 2004, he was responsible for managing more than USD$1bn in Applied Materials’ Metal Deposition and Thin Films Product Business Group.

Lazovsky has a degree in mechanical engineering from Ohio University and holds 45 US patents.

He also currently serves on the board of directors of POET Technologies, a provider of optoelectronics solutions for the data communications and optical sensors markets.

“We’re pleased to welcome Dave to our board,” said Craig Evans, ESS CEO, in press materials. “His addition complements our existing team of leaders in power and clean energy generation, serving on the ESS board. 

Low levelised cost of storage

“Dave shares our confidence in the cost effectiveness of the all-iron chemistry to support the low levelised cost of storage requirements of ESS customers.”

In the press statement, Lazovsky said ESS was “leading the transition to more flexible, low-cost, long-duration energy storage solutions.

“Energy storage is a critical component in a future where renewable penetration grows and increasingly displaces fossil-fuel power generation.”

ESS has developed and commercialised a “differentiated iron flow battery technology,” he said, “and is poised to lead the industry in low-cost energy storage. I am pleased to be a part of the ESS team.”

ESS’s all-iron flow battery is designed to address emerging utility market needs for long-life, low cost-per-kWh storage systems that can time-shift bulk energy from wind and solar to enable deep penetration of renewables on the grid. 

The shift to renewable generation

“As PV reaches grid parity in many markets, low-cost energy storage that buffers intermittencies will be a key enabler for the shift to renewable generation,” stated Evans.

ESS recently announced a shipment of its flow battery to be deployed in a microgrid for the US Army Corps of Engineers.

The battery will be part of an integrated microgrid at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, to demonstrate long-duration storage capability for use in forward-operating bases, ESS said in November.

The US military’s main objective is to show that delivering dry long-duration batteries to the field significantly reduces fuel use, hauling equipment requirements and associated logistics.

In addition, ESS has systems destined for the University of California San Diego and a renewable energy facility in Lubbock, Texas, where DNV GL will perform third-party validation on the flow battery as it shifts wind power daily.

Commercial and utility-scale applications

Established in 2011, ESS manufactures a low-cost, long-duration all-iron redox flow battery for commercial and utility-scale energy storage applications requiring four or more hours of energy capacity and a 20-year lifetime.

The battery allows for power and energy applications with daily cycling, enabling multiple application capabilities and stacked revenue streams, according to ESS.

In December, the company released research carried out among energy storage procurers and project developers, in association with Energy Storage Report, on the importance of long-duration storage.

The study showed more than half of upcoming energy storage projects could require assets with a discharge duration of around four hours or more.

About 30% of energy storage procurement decision makers interviewed for the ESS study Beyond Four Hours said long-duration storage was “very important” for their business already. 

Currently considering long-duration storage

Another 30% said they were currently considering long-duration storage projects, 20% said it would be important in future and 10% considered it as part of a broader portfolio. Only 10% said it was not applicable to their business.

The research revealed a wide range of definitions for what constitutes a ‘long-duration’ asset.

But six out of 10 respondents claimed a requirement of more than four hours, which is generally considered beyond the cost-effective range of lithium-ion batteries commonly used for shorter-duration electricity storage.

 

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