Amber Kinetics doubles ‘flywheel energy storage’ production end-2022

Published June 15, 2022, 3:54 PM

by Myrna M. Velasco

With anticipated robust uptake from renewable energy (RE) developers, US-headquartered Amber Kinetics will double its production of kinetic energy storage systems (KESS) or “flywheels” by the end of the year at the completion of its manufacturing facility expansion in Santo Tomas, Batangas.

In a briefing with reporters, Roberto S. Kanapi, director of Business Development at Amber Kinetics Philippines, noted that the current capacity of their manufacturing facility hovers at 600 to 700 flywheels per annum; but when their second manufacturing facility would reach commercial operations by year-end, production will be ramped up to 1,800-2,000 flywheels.

The current markets catered to by the company are mostly renewable energy (RE) developers in the Philippines although most are still at proof-of-concept pace of installations; while the balance is being allocated for Australia as its key export market for flywheels this time.

“As we’re speaking, 600 to 700 flywheels per year, but the new manufacturing facility should be able to double this size – so we’re talking somewhere 1,800 to 2,000 flywheels per annum,” he said.

Kanapi added “currently, we are supplying Australia from the Philippines; and that’s the reason why we set up our second manufacturing plant to augment our current capacity.”

Since the company ventured into KESS production and sales from three years ago, he emphasized that the aggregate investment injected into projects already amounted to $150 million to $160 million.

When asked if Amber Kinetics will be an energy storage system supplier to the mega-solar and battery storage project of Terra Solar, a joint venture of Prime Infrastructure Holdings Inc. of billionaire Enrique Razon and Solar Philippines of young businessman Leandro Leviste, he stated that the company is not part of that development, but it is keen on having a participation in that landmark venture that will supply the 850-megawatt mid-merit electricity requirements of Manila Electric Company (Meralco) by 2026-2027.

“We are not part of the Razon-Leviste project, but we would like to be part of it. The Razon-Leviste project is 4,500MWh (megawatt-hours); and inevitably for them to be really efficient in usage of solar, they will have to use energy storage – they will have to store energy,” Kanapi stressed.

The core partnerships being firmed up by Amber Kinetics would include those with power utility giant Meralco; and the rest are RE developers that have been building up their clean energy generation portfolios in the country.

The other prospective clients that Amber Kinetics has been in discussion with are Shell Philippines which is advancing the “solarization” of its mobility stations while separate talks are likewise pursued with SMC Global Power Holdings Corporation of the San Miguel group as that conglomerate also casts massive-scale RE projects moving forward.

The commercial and industrial (C&I) segment is similarly on the firm’s target and among the prospects would be hotels in Palawan.

Additionally, Amber Kinetics is exploring tie-ups with biomass energy producers in Isabela and Negros Occidental who have been opting for ‘energy storage coupling’ on their projects.

For the RE market, in particular, Kanapi asserted that “we’re very excited about this industry, because this is the future, especially in the Philippines. The biggest of the biggest generators and distributors, we are putting up pilot projects already – in their future plans, they have already included energy storage – but it will then be a choice on whether they will go for batteries or flywheels. The biggest advantage we have here is: many of the things related to sustainability can be found in flywheels.”

He, nevertheless, qualified that on the aspect of cost and technology deployment balancing “we don’t mind going into hybrid energy storage system – it could be combination of lithium-ion and flywheels.”