1. Jonas Eklind CEO Azelio Top 5 Solar Energy Comapnies in 2021

Can you give me a background to yourself and to Azelio and what it does?

Energy storage is my background. Before  Azelio, I was the CEO of a battery firm that dealt with more traditional energy storage, and before that, I was the CEO of an energy storage and hydrogen company.

When I first joined Azelio in 2016, my goal was to build a distributed baseload system, which means you can have renewable energy 24 hours a day.

Azelio had developed a method for converting thermal energy to electricity at the time. So, in 2016, I started working on a thermal energy storage solution within the company. When you combine that with the technology to convert thermal energy to electricity, you have a baseload system that can provide dispatchable renewable energy 24 hours a day. What’s more, if you combine thermal energy with the converter that Azelio already had when I started with a Stirling engine, you can build a system for distributed installations that is cost competitive with alternative solutions between 100 kilowatts and up to 100 m.

So, in 2016, we got the notion to take current technology and put on this storage pot, and now we’ve introduced it as a product. We’ve had it running since 2018, and we’re currently working on our first commercial project. We’ve got a lot of interest in the market, and we currently have a pipeline of requests for about $20 billion, as well as Memorandums of Understanding for projects worth more than $2 billion. Because we have a means to store renewable energy at a very cheap cost and make renewable energy dispatchable around the clock, it appears to be of significant interest on the market.

That’s what I attempted with batteries, but the cost was prohibitive. It was prohibitively pricey. The same thing happened with hydrogen. The technology was simply too sophisticated, and the system’s cost was simply too exorbitant. What we have now is a solution that provides renewable electricity 24 hours a day for 93 euros per megawatt-hour levelised cost of electricity if you want a 5 MW installation and base it on solar PV for production during sun hours and production from our storage during the night or when direct production is insufficient (LCOE).

I presume the renewable energy technology you work mostly with then is global solar. In terms of its deployment and the various financial aspects, can you give me a rundown of where the solar sector is at the moment?

The benefit of solar energy is that if you have adequate sun resources, the cost of a kilowatt hour generated by a solar installation is quite low. If you want the lowest electricity, you create a solar PV field in a sunny place, and that’s one of the many advantages of solar.

The disadvantage of our technique is that solar energy is only available for a few hours each day. Because you will never have solar energy in the middle of the night, nor in the evenings and mornings when demand is high at a regular site, you will need to build on the storage unit. In most cases, the ratio is around six hours of good solar power to eighteen hours of bad solar power. So, by combining the most cost-effective method of producing renewables, solar PV, with our storage, you can create a very cost-effective renewable energy baseload system that runs 24 hours a day.

Is renewable energy still on track to supply 80 percent of power in 2030?

That will necessitate a large number of storage units. A lot. Some countries, such as Sweden, are generating the majority of their energy from renewable sources, but you could almost argue that we are cheating because we are using hydropower with large dams, and you don’t need pumps because you can simply collect water from the mountains, but we have an installation in Morocco, which has plenty of sun, good wind, and hydropower. They have set a goal of using 52 percent renewable energy by 2030, and I believe they are on track.

Which countries around the world are being the most progressive in your opinion?

I’m not sure I can rank them, but you have some locations, such as California, that have had a significant impact on renewables. However, if you deploy a lot of renewables without long-term energy storage, which we provide, you would create a lot of problems in your grid system, as California has. The price fluctuates between 0.00 and at least $1,000 per megawatt-hour, making it extremely expensive for some hours, and you have power limitations. So adding a lot of renewables will generate a lot of new challenges, and we’ve worked in Dubai for several years and are currently installing our first commercial project there. They predicted that without storage, solar power penetration in Dubai would be less than 8% a few years ago. It would cause so many problems that the grid could not handle it at around 8%. However, if you add storage, that number can rise to 100 if you have very long-term energy storage.

And before, like a couple of years ago, when people talked about storage, they meant more power regulations, such as peak handling or frequency regulation to maintain grid stability, not real energy shifting, because if you want renewable energy 24 hours a day, you’ll need a lot of storage, especially with solar, because you’ll only have solar six hours a day, and that’s not enough to store in some batteries for peak shaving. You’ll need electricity for 18 hours. And that’s exactly what’s occurring right now: technology for long-term energy storage are on the way.

So in in which countries around the world Azelio have a presence where you’re really making a difference with this?

Looking at where we’ve deployed systems, we’ve done so in Sweden, Morocco, Abu Dhabi, and soon in Dubai, but we’re still in the early stages of being a commercial firm.

We will begin volume production and deliveries this year, and looking at where we have signed agreements worth two billion dollars in potential projects, they are primarily for the MENA region, North America, but also for the southern and western parts of the continent, Mexico and California, Latin America, and India. As a result, it’s more of a mix of different geographies for various purposes. Looking at California, we’ve mostly signed deals with grid-connected projects where the end user has a lot of issues with pricing fluctuations and power limits.

Looking at the MENA region, it looks pretty similar, but the projects we’ve signed in Latin America are primarily for replacing diesel generators in off-grid applications. Many mining applications have pumps, water pumps, and these pumps are powered by diesel generators. To replace them, you’ll need a baseload system because they’re running 24 hours a day, and a decentralised solution because each location requires about 500 kilowatts, possibly two megawatts. Then you can combine Azelio with solar PV, and you’ll be able to run these pumps entirely on solar energy 24 hours a day.

What kind of innovations are appearing in the storage sector at the moment?

One thing is thermal energy storage, which we portray and of which there are two sorts. One option is to simply replace heat by storing renewables and using them as heat, or you can do what we do and store heat and convert it back to electricity, which you can then use as electricity. Then there are whole new versions of the batteries – what are known as flow batteries – which are also real, so you have a different battery chemistry and a different battery concept, but it’s better for long-term energy storage. After that, there’s hydrogen. That’s a very important energy carrier, but the reason I wanted to join Azelio was to avoid trying to build a distributor baseload based on hydrogen because the cost is too high for distributed systems, but hydrogen will be extremely important for more centralised systems where you want to equalise wind production in Europe.

How do you see Azelio’s role in this sector developing over the next five to ten years or so?

We will begin delivering this year. We want to produce 6,000 TES.PODS (the name of our storage solution) this year, 17,000 in 2023, and 35,000 in 2024, which will have a significant impact on the transition to renewables and, of course, will transform Azelio from a development business to a global commercial industrial corporation. 35,000 TES.PODS will provide a couple of billion dollars in potential revenue for Azelio, and Azelio will alter the renewable energy sector by providing this cost-effective method of long-duration area storage.

Before Christmas, I had the opportunity to attend New York Climate Week and participate in a panel debate there, and the conclusion of the panel was really interesting because when it comes to long-term energy storage, all technologies will be required. Every technology has a purpose and benefits, but every technology also has problems. A variety of technologies are required to construct an energy system. We are replacing the entire world’s reliance on fossil fuels, and this cannot be accomplished with just one technology. You’ll need one technology for decentralised baseload, like we do, and another for centralised baseload, like we do. Another is good for short periods of time, such as five to seven hours, while other technologies are good for storing energy for one week to the next month, or storing for one day, saving it for one month, and then dispatching it, or storing energy for the entire summer and winter, and you’ll need a variety of technologies to put the system together.

Website: https://www.azelio.com/

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