Episode 52: Powering More Than Sunscreen

On Thursday, NCSEA released the 52nd episode of the Squeaky Clean Energy Podcast, “Zinc  Powering More Than Just Your Sunscreen,” where host Matt Abele investigated the development of zinc storage and its industrial presence in North Carolina.  

In his interview with Executive Director Andrew Green and Manager of the Zinc Battery Initiative, Morgan Frederick, from the International Zinc Association, Matt discussed the benefits of zinc storage and the abundance of zinc assets in North Carolina. Headquartered in Durham, NC, the International Zinc Association is a non-profit trade organization representing the global zinc industry with a mission to sustainably grow markets and promote research and development. Beyond just Durham’s convenient proximity to transportation hubs, Green explains that the access to the Research Triangle has been invaluable for zinc development.  

The mission of the Zinc Battery Initiative, launched in 2020, is to spread awareness among stakeholders and promote the use of zinc batteries in emerging markets. Currently, major market players, like Bloomberg and Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, have already expressed a need for diversified energy storage options and the potential of zinc batteries.  

North Carolina plays a key role in the supply chain of zinc, especially with its zinc recycling plant in Mooresboro, NC. Check out American Zinc Products to learn more about its plant in North Carolina and how they produce zinc solely from recycled sources. At full capacity, the plant will be able to produce around 155,000 metric tons of zinc which will generate $465 million annually.  

Frederick explained that the ability to scale, versatility, safety, and affordability of zinc batteries make it a direct competitor to lithium-ion batteries. Currently, zinc batteries have a wide variety of applications, including microgrid, urban, indoors, defense, and data center storage. One of the greatest manufacturers of zinc-ion batteries currently in the United States is Salient Energy. Some other major players in the zinc-ion or zinc hybrid market include ZincFiveRed Flow, and Zinc8, which is actually constructing the first long duration storage project in the state of New York.  

Greater supply abundance, lower maintenance costs, and longer life cycles compared to lithium-ion batteries are why some grid operators, like Duke Energy, have been switching to zinc. Matt also speaks with Tom Fenimore, Technology Development Manager from Duke Energy, about how the utility company is using zinc as a widespread storage technology and its benefits compared to other options.  

Currently, Duke Energy has a partnership with EOS Energy Storage to pilot their zinc Znyth battery technology Aurora 2.0 storage system in North Carolina. In the meantime, Duke Energy also has ongoing research partnerships with major corporations like Toshiba to develop possible megawatt projects.  

To learn more about energy storage, check out NCSEA’s dedicated page and this report by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association on issues relating to deployment of battery energy storage technologies. This episode also serves as a continuation of NCSEA’s mini-series on energy storage. We would also like to let readers know that NCSEA recently published its Economic Impact Analysis of Clean Energy Development in NC - 2021 Update in partnership with RTI International.  

We would like to thank first-time and loyal listeners for their interest in clean energy policy in North Carolina and encourage them to stay engaged with NCSEA on InstagramTwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn! The Squeaky Clean Energy Podcast brings the latest in North Carolina clean energy policies and news. To make sure you’re notified when new episodes are released, please subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, or SoundCloud. Feel free to leave us a review or comment on any platform! 


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