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Zinc joins battery race in the US

Sugar Solar, a 81MWdc/60MWac MW site in Yadkin County, North Carolina. (Image courtesy of Pine Gate Renewables).

US battery maker Urban Electric Power is set to supply an initial 4,550 MWh of its rechargeable zinc alkaline batteries over the next five years to solar and energy storage project developer Pine Gate Renewables.

Through a memorandum of understanding, the companies have set their objective to be supporting Pine Gate’s growing pipeline of solar-coupled and standalone energy storage projects across the United States. At present, Pine Gate has over 1 GW of operating solar assets in the country with over 16 GW in active development.

Urban Electric Power, on the other hand, has a battery assembling factory in Pearl River, New York, and supplies both homes and commercial clients through its Ohm label, and utility-scale infrastructure projects through its Zeus label.

The firm’s alkaline zinc manganese dioxide battery has been in development since 2012 by researchers at City College of New York. It is considered fire-safe for indoor installations in cities as it is not subject to thermal runaway, a common issue in lithium-ion batteries. It is also considered more ESG-friendly than its lithium counterparts as it doesn’t contain the white metal, cobalt or lead.

The battery has been tested and proven for large-scale uses such as in the San Diego Supercomputer Center, and at commercial-industrial locations to offer backup power and dispatchable energy storage to the power grid.

“We’re excited to partner with Urban Electric Power to bring zinc alkaline batteries, a familiar household item, and apply it towards grid-connected utility-scale applications for our customers across the United States,” Raafe Khan, director of energy storage at Pine Gate Renewables, said in a media statement.

“We are committed to supporting our partners and customers with safe, domestically manufactured, scalable, reliable, and durable solutions that they can connect with for their storage needs.”