Sustainable energy storage
A pioneer of the emerging energy storage market, GIGA Storage, looks to expand its operations as demand for renewable energy infrastructures continues to rise
As part of its mission to become the market leader in renewable energy storage, GIGA Storage has created energy storage solutions capable of fully utilizing sustainably generated energy. The company was founded in 2018 by a group of economists and sustainability experts who saw a gap in the market for sustainable energy storage; today, the company’s advanced energy storage solutions promise to play a vital role in the large-scale infrastructure of sustainable energy production.
Energy storage is a new and emerging market, something Chief Executive Officer, Ruud Nijs, anticipated four years ago, when he and two partners founded GIGA Storage. “We didn’t have any specific background in the energy industry, but we did have experience with renewability projects, as well as sustainable finance. We worked together with a couple of experts, who had more experience in the energy sector, and together we found that there was a lack of suitable energy storage for companies looking to transition from traditional to renewable energy,” Ruud explains.
Storage is crucial to the success of renewable energy, as Ruud discusses: “In Europe, with the exception of the UK, you see a lot of attention is now being placed on wind energy, bio-masts and hydrogen; however, there is very little focus on the storage element of these processes. Storage should be a critical part of the way we produce and manage energy going forward, if renewable energy is going to succeed in replacing gas and oil, which is more flexible in terms of where it can be kept and for how long.
“We worked together with a lot of people out of the energy sector, including shareholders and intellectuals. Using this wealth of knowledge, we took a look at the industry as it is and sought to add value. We added two new partners, one with a background in IT, who designed our online communications platform, and another who is a top engineer with specialist experience in battery technology. He became our chief of technology. So, we started from an economic perspective, and grew into the energy industry from there.”
With the addition of industry and engineering experts, GIGA Storage began establishing itself in the world of large-scale energy storage. The company soon built a network of partners, alongside its flagship project, the GIGA Rhino. “We decided to focus our efforts on large storage, and so in 2020 we began working on the largest battery in the Netherlands. The finished unit is a 12-megawatt hour battery pack, placed within a closed distribution system in the middle of the country. This system can stack revenue models by delivering local services into the network, as well as tapping into several energy markets. We did this with a focus on replacing the flexibility competencies of oil and gas,” Ruud details.
“We decided that in order to manage the system we would need a data-logics team, writing algorithms and deploying the battery energy 100 percent in-house. We later developed our model, and found that renting out the energy storage spaces to larger companies allowed us to increase the size of our battery, which now runs at 48 megawatts.
“We essentially offered our services as an energy product storage space, and we intend to rent out more energy space going forward, whilst also trading ourselves. The main focus for us will be the second battery; our first battery was called the GIGA Rhino, and the second one is named GIGA Buffalo. We are now working on the GIGA Elephant, which is a project that will include a network of energy companies working together to release parts of the battery. The Buffalo is about six times larger than the Rhino, and the Elephant will be considerably larger than that, meaning we are working with a pretty steep growth curve,” he adds.
This progress is happening at the very cutting edge of sustainable energy technology. As the shift toward all-green energy sources becomes more and more immediate, GIGA Storage is working hard to develop and provide the necessary infrastructure, as Ruud confirms: “By deploying batteries, you can actually optimize locally generated energy, and by optimizing that you are less dependent on the import ofenergy. Europe is in a very difficult geopolitical situation right now, and so it’s important for a lot of countries that they produce energy locally, and independently. Batteries provide locally generated, sustainable energy, and so they’re a really important part of this shift.”
Whilst supporting local production, sustainable energy storage also comes with a range of economic and logistical benefits, as Ruud asserts: “Storage also provides a more stable source of energy production; a combination of storage, wind and solar energy is more reliable than solely relying on wind, for example. Storage delivers a dependable source of sustainable energy, which is really necessary to overcome the risk of energy fallouts.
“Additionally, we are seeing a lot of congestion issues in the energy market right now. Energy networks are built from the top down, meaning they don’t effectively use all these new sources of energy. Congestion can largely be avoided by putting energy storage facilities in strategic places throughout the electricity network. This allows more assets to become connected to the network, which in turn powers housing and industry more effectively.
“There are economic benefits to growing a network of strategically placed energy storage units. It has been predicted that half of our electricity will come from sustainable energy sources by 2030, and so it’s important to keep up with the rapidly changing market. Storage offers energy companies the chance to manage their flexibility, and grow quickly alongside the renewables sector.”
GIGA Storage was founded on a vision of the future, where sustainable energy can be effectively produced and stored on a local basis. As this future becomes a more tangible reality, Ruud and his team anticipate that 2022 will be one of their biggest years yet: “All across Europe there is a growing interest in energy storage, which is obviously very exciting for us.
“Germany and Belgium have been making strides for the last two years, and it’s becoming a more established industry in the UK also. In countries where there is a lot of sun, Italy and Spain for example, there have been a lot of discussions around energy storage, and governments are talking about changing the law to facilitate a lot of new energy projects.
“We believe that we were on-time when we founded GIGA Storage in 2018. We now have years of experience and expertise that will be crucial when the market fully opens up this year. We really need to serve companies as they ride this wave of change, and try to stay ahead of their competition. We already see competition cropping up ourselves, and we welcome that. This is the beginning of a new industry, which is incredibly exciting for everyone involved,” Ruud enthuses.
It is clear that GIGA Storage stands at the cutting-edge of an exciting new era for the energy industry as a whole. As Ruud concludes: “We are on the front line of an energy transition that is going to be very significant over the next few years. A lot of energy companies and industry experts believe that energy storage is going to play a huge role in moving toward sustainable energy, so it’s important to keep that momentum going. We know that storage is definitely here to stay, as it’s a crucial part of a newly emerging, sustainable infrastructure for the energy industry.”
Services: Sustainable energy storage