With a sustainable and low-cost solution for energy storage, CHEX SpA will join the program that aims to accelerate and scale 33 companies supporting the global energy transition.
The progressive abandonment of fossil fuels is one of the global objectives that requires the most urgent attention today: according to the United Nations, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 50% by 2030 and reach net-zero by the year 2050 if we want to avoid the most negative impacts of climate change.
In response to this, with an increasing number of initiatives aiming to transform the world’s energy matrix, there has been a growing global investment and a rising market in clean energies: between 2021 and 2050, an investment of around $110 trillion (US$3.5 trillion per year) is required in this field, as indicated by the estimations of the international organization Energy Transitions Commission.
In this context, one of the programs that seeks to channel part of this investment volume is the Energy Climate Lab, belonging to Amazon’s AWS Clean Energy Accelerator (CEA). It is a technology and collaboration laboratory that aims to support emerging and scalable companies in tackling global climate challenges. In its latest call, 470 initiatives from different countries were part of the process, and only 33 were selected. Among them is CHEX SpA, a spin-off from the Scientific Technological Center of Valparaíso (CCTVal), belonging to the Federico Santa María Technical University, which offers an efficient and low-cost energy storage system using only air and water.
With the company’s selection by Amazon, it will have access to the program for 12 weeks, during which it will also receive US$100,000 to use in the company’s services such as business plans, digital platforms, artificial intelligence, etc., within a period of three years. Additionally, the process includes participation in exhibitions and roadshows to connect companies and investors, as well as various advisory services from AWS Amazon.
One of the greatest difficulties presented by the use of renewable energies – derived from the sun, wind, or water – is the inherent intermittency in the availability of their sources. This, at times, can hinder the continuous electricity production and affect its supply.
In response to this, CHEX (whose name stands for Compressed Hydro Energy Storage) has developed a sustainable, simple, and cost-effective solution for energy storage, inspired by the concept of a virtual dam.
“This is a system that operates with compressed air stored in a tank, which is released through a pipeline system. Then, under pressure, it enters another tank with water, simulating the effect of a syringe, which moves a hydraulic turbine that generates electricity,” explains Christian Romero, CEO of CHEX and a researcher at CCTVal.
Among its advantages is that it is a cyclical process that uses a constant amount of water, reducing consumption and making the duration of each cycle and the capacity of energy production dependent on the size of the storage tanks. This allows it to have residential or industrial applications, serving large photovoltaic plants or small devices like lighting systems.
“CHEX is still a small company, but the solution it presents is global. Therefore, we are in the process of reaching a broader audience beyond the local level. For example, we believe that countries with abandoned mines or oil wells can transform those unused spaces into energy storage systems using our technology. The possibilities are vast, and we are convinced that we have a solution that will enable the transformation of energy matrices and continue producing necessary goods at a global level, but with a lower environmental impact,” says Romero.
Currently, CHEX holds patents granted in Chile, Argentina, and Europe, and they are developing their first industrial equipment or minimum viable product. This equipment, used for testing, trials, and planning for future versions, is being manufactured in one of the laboratories at CCTVal, located in Viña del Mar. Over the next few months, it will begin operating as an energy accumulator for limited periods of time.
“We believe that our solution is innovative, and this award from Amazon confirms it. It’s great news precisely because we are in a scaling stage and require investment. Our goal is to actively participate in the energy transition process, capturing a portion of the energy storage market,” concludes the researcher and CEO of the company.
With CHEX’s participation in the Energy Climate Lab, Chile becomes one of the two Latin American countries represented in the program, alongside Brazil. The list is completed by startups from Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Germany, India, Jamaica, Japan, the Netherlands, Nepal, Nigeria, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.