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Siam Cement Group invests in Rondo Energy to bring heat batteries to Southeast Asia

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Siam Cement Group (SCG) has invested in Rondo Energy, a start up who has produced a heat battery that stores renewable energy in a continuous cycle, enabling low carbon heat provision for cement production and other industrial manufacturing at low cost.

  •  Siam Cement Group joins Titan Cement Group in investment and collaboration with Rondo on application of its heat battery.
  • Industrial processes are the largest source of CO2 in their energy intensiveness of both electricity and heat.
  • With industries committing to rapid decarbonisation trajectories, innovative carbon free solutions for energy input will play a crucial role.

Rondo is a start-up funded by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, sponsored by Bill Gates, whose aim is “to accelerate an energy transition across every sector of the economy.” Energy Impact Partners is its other principal investor, whose mission statement is “to help founders solve the world’s most difficult problems”.

Heavy industry accounts for over 30% of global carbon dioxide emissions, the highest source. The ETC’s Mission Possible Report said these could increase to 60% by mid-century as other sectors lower their emissions.

Carbon free heat bricks that deliver industrial heat

Rondo’s heat batteries (RHB) act as thermal storage technology for industrial heat electrification. Injected with wind and solar power, the RHB, which are types of bricks, retain the heat at high temperatures for use by industrial process when needed. Whilst industry wants and needs to decarbonise, the ultra intensive energy input core to their processes cannot rely solely on the intermittency of renewable energy.

In the RHB, “intermittent renewable electricity is stored and delivered as continuous, high-temperature heat, meeting the demanding needs of industry for safe, simple, low-cost energy,” said Rondo. It is able to supply heat at temperatures of up to 1,500°C. 

“The plunging costs and worldwide availability of wind and solar power now make Rondo’s zero-carbon heat the lowest-cost approach to large-scale industrial decarbonisation.”

RHB works across the range of SCG’s business lines: cement, chemicals, paper, and packaging.

Tim McCaffery, Global Investment Director said, “Together with Rondo, SCG is excited to bring this technology to the region to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming.” Rondo Energy’s John O’Donnell, CEO of. “Rondo’s technology opens a new pathway for SCG to achieve their deep decarbonization goals and simultaneously reduce their operating costs.

RHB offers a flexibility and scalability of energy storage in its modularity that current battery storage does not provide. Rondo said that it had drawn on the steel industry’s experience using millions of tons of brick for low-cost heat storage worldwide, and on decades of team experience building large-scale industrial heat. 

Technology primed for Southeast Asian market

Rondo and SCG have signed a letter of intent to develop and expand Rondo’s Heat Battery technology. Series A funding which Titan Cement Group joined in July enabled Rondo to establish its first manufacturing lines and develop services for heavy industry and energy producers. This collaboration will focus on the Southeast Asian market and aim at scaling Rondo’s systems worldwide.

Industry leaders commit to decarbonisation strategies this decade

Rondo’s heat batteries will play into the sharp need for industry to decarbonise their production processes, in which SCG is taking a lead. The difficulty in addressing decarbonisation in complex and energy intensive industrial processes means that it has largely been left to emissions trading schemes which have picked the low hanging fruit of coal to gas switching.

The Energy Transitions Commission’s Mission Possible report, which addressed reaching net-zero carbon emissions from harder-to-abate sectors by mid century, and had input from over 200 industry experts, concluded that cement was in the top three most challenging sectors to decarbonise due to process emissions. The other two were plastics and shipping.

At NY Climate Week last week over 200 industry leaders signed up for decarbonisation strategies from the Mission Possible Partnership (MPP) to decarbonise some of the world’s hardest-to-abate, carbon-intensive industries in this decade.

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