Soltec invests in the energy storage startup Silbat, through Aurora

The integrated photovoltaic solutions company, Soltechas entered into the capital of whistle through its corporate accelerator dawn. This is the first acquisition of this launcher of emerging projects. With this movement, the participation of the Murcian firm in the startup, founded in 2019, amounts to 12.19%.

With this acquisition, Soltec intends to explore a long-term energy storage technology, that could tackle the problem of the intermittency of renewable energies and its undesired effects that produce strong imbalances in the hourly price curve and in the stability of the network, among others. In addition, it seeks to facilitate the adoption of this technology itself, preferentially in its own plants.

As explained Raul MoralesCEO of Soltec, “The development of energy storage, together with the electrification of our economy, is urgent and necessary. The system and the sector need to be able to stabilize production and the price curve, so all these types of innovations that contribute to further progress in the energy transition are necessary and it is important to support them. At Soltec we have always been at the forefront of new solutions that contribute to strengthening the sector and achieving a total decarbonisation of the economy”.

Advanced economies are embarking on an accelerated race towards the energy transition and innovative solutions are needed to facilitate the large-scale deployment of renewable energy plants. This first investment of Aurora in thermophotovoltaic technology points in this direction; once fully developed, it will facilitate the storage of electricity from solar energy when there is not enough demand and its subsequent use when electricity consumption increases or the network operators require it”has assured Iván Soto, responsible for Aurora.

Silbat is a spin-off founded and led by Ignacio Luque, who is its CEO and has a long business career in the field of photovoltaic industry, and Antonio Luque, emeritus professor of Physical Electronics and honorary president of the Institute of Solar Energy of the Polytechnic University of Madrid. The firm develops a new technology for electrical storage in the latent heat of fusion of molten silicon and its extraction using thermo-photovoltaic cells.

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A disruptive technology

Silbat’s technological proposal is based on the storage in the form of latent heat of electricity from renewable sources and in its recovery through thermophotovoltaic cells. Currently in the testing phase in a controlled environment, this battery with a duration of up to 100 hours per cycle is a response to both the intermittency problem of renewable energies and the excess supply at certain times of the day, since it allows both dispatching the electricity stored almost immediately, such as avoiding its discharge at times of greatest electricity generation in order to promote its subsequent use, when demand is highest.

The material that Silbat uses to convert electricity into heat is silicon, which, unlike lithium and other metals used for current batteries, is abundant and cheap. In fact, this is one of the keys that, once industrialized, this solution can be very competitive (less than €10/kWh in investment costs and around €0.05/kWh in terms of the levelized cost of the energy released).

Other advantages of this technology would be the high energy density of silicon itself -it is the second chemical element with the highest latent heat of fusion- the long useful life of the battery -up to 30 years- and the modular and scalable nature of the solution installed in containers .

Aurora’s Bet

Created in 2021, Aurora is the corporate accelerator of Soltec. Its objective is to promote innovative projects that fight against climate change and, at the same time, ensure the company’s long-term competitiveness through renewable energy. It is thus configured as a tool to promote innovation that identifies, selects and promotes commercial and investment agreements, both with companies that have solutions in the pre-commercial phase and with disruptive startups that are developing technologies in the validation phase in controlled environments.

Aurora also manages the IDEA intrapreneurship program, whose mission is to stimulate the entrepreneurial spirit of Soltec employees. To date, nearly 50 employees have participated in the two editions of the IDEA program and the EnviroScalea spin-off dedicated to measuring the origin and sustainability of energy through blockchain technology.

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