* Korea Zinc invests $ 50 million in Energy Vault
* Korea Zinc will use energy storage in an Australian refinery
* Energy Vault seeks to expand in Australia
MELBOURNE, Jan.5 (Reuters) – Korea Zinc has agreed to invest $ 50 million in energy storage developer Energy Vault and use its technology to help decarbonize operations at its zinc refinery in Australia, have announced the two companies.
Korea Zinc is the latest major firm to back Switzerland-based Energy Vault, after SoftBank Group Corp, Saudi Aramco and global miner BHP Group, ahead of an expected New York Stock Exchange listing this quarter through a company of ad hoc acquisition of Novus Capital.
Korea Zinc’s investment increased the amount raised by Energy Vault through its private equity investment, or PIPE, by 50% to $ 150 million from its original target.
“This is a very strong signal to the market from a large strategic (company) and the validation of our technology and the investment in their strategy for the transition to clean energy,” said Energy Vault CEO Robert Piconi told Reuters.
BHP and Korea Zinc are both looking to use renewable energy at their mining and smelting sites and to drive electrolysers to make green hydrogen for their trucks, and energy storage will be crucial to ensure that these operations can operate 24/7 when the sun is not shining. or the wind is not blowing.
“Energy Vault’s innovative storage technology and energy management software platform can play a key role in enabling and accelerating our decarbonization strategy as we improve our ability to power our operations with renewable energy.” Korea Zinc Vice President Yun B. Choi said in a statement.
Korea Zinc aims to make its Sun Metals refinery in Queensland state one of the first zinc refineries in the world to produce green zinc, as part of the group’s broader goal of increasing to 80% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% by 2040.
The investment in Energy Vault follows the acquisition by Korea Zinc through its Ark Energy branch of an Australian developer of wind and solar farms.
Energy Vault plans to start building an energy storage system for Sun Metals in mid-2022. The companies have yet to disclose the location or size of the project.
Energy Vault’s EVx storage system works like pumped hydropower, using energy when supply is plentiful to drive motors and lift 30-ton blocks, rather than water, to a height . When power is needed, the blocks are lowered, releasing their potential energy to generate electricity.
Reinforcing its ecological credentials, it has developed composite blocks in collaboration with the Mexican company Cemex, which can be made from earth extracted on the sites where it plans to build its storage systems and from materials such as mine tailings, coal ash and even decommissioned wind turbine blades.
Piconi said Energy Vault is in talks with other companies in Australia.
“I think this will be one of our biggest markets,” he said in an interview.
Reporting by Sonali Paul; Edited by Christian Schmollinger