Achieving a Circular Economy in the energy sector via beneficial reuse of waste materials

Managing the waste biproducts of energy production, particularly waste generated from burning fossil fuels is a global challenge. Environmental policy pressure is on the rise with renewed focus on sustainable development of a circular economy in the energy sector.

Coal plants generate millions of tons of coal combustion residuals (CCR) which pose both environmental risks to the local communities and economic risks for these organizations. Incumbent processed for managing coal combustion residuals do not meet today’s Environmental Social Governance (ESG) standards. According to Earth Justice, in the U.S. alone, 95% of coal ash ponds (traditional method for CCR disposal) are unlined and almost all of them are contaminating groundwater with toxins making it unsafe for human consumption. (EarthJustice, 2020)

Energy Vault Gravity Energy Storage (GES) represents an immediately viable solution to improve sustainability, recyclability, life extension, of the energy sector via advanced materials science that supports waste to energy remediation.

Waste to Energy – Storation

Energy Vault addresses the enormous energy demand to support resilient renewables and the massive challenge to address energy production waste. Market drivers for waste remediation include drivers are environmental responsibility, environmental regulation, and economic opportunity.

CCR Remediation: As government policy mandates, global financial vehicles and power producers alike actively working to shut down coal plants at an accelerated rate, the need for viable and sustainable CCR remediation solutions is crucial for safe decommissioning of these locations. Energy Vault gravity energy storage serves this transition in two ways. Energy Vault gravity energy storage not only addresses a primary barrier to renewables adoption but also facilitates the transition to renewables by providing a solution to remediate by-products of fossil fuel production (CCR) and the option to repurpose waste materials from the disassembled plant.

Wind Blade Recycling: Wind blade glass fiber reinforced plastics (GFRP) recycling is a top priority of the renewables industry as companies struggle to find solutions for GFRP at end of life. According to the latest Bloomberg report (BloombergNEF, 2020) on Composites Recycling: Performance Meets Sustainability, 1.2 million metric tons of composite waste material is expected from wind turbines by 2050. Stranded wind blade assets are too large to transport and too difficult to recycle via traditional methods. Energy Vault provides a solution to convert these materials to beneficial reuse in energy storage through our advanced materials science for mobile mass manufacturing, converting this stranded waste material to beneficial reuse as storage for 30+ more years.

Mapping the Coal Ash Contamination (2019). Mapping the Coal Ash Contamination. [online] Earthjustice. Available at: https://earthjustice.org/features/map-coal-ash-contaminated-sites.

BloombergNEF. (2019) 2019 Long-Term Energy Storage Outlook.

BloombergNEF. (2020) Composites Recycling: Performance Meets Sustainability.

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