Trafigura to invest up to €30 million to develop battery energy storage system

Geneva-based commodity trader Trafigura is investing up to €30 million into Belgium’s largest Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) at Nyrstar’s zinc smelting facility in Balen.

The investment will be the first live project by Nala Renewables, Trafigura’s newly formed joint venture company with IFM Investors.

Construction of the Balen BESS project is planned to start during the first half of 2021 following permitting approval, with completion in 2022. 

Utilising lithium-ion battery technology, the 100 MWh battery project will be able to store 25 MW for over four hours.

“The BESS system will provide grid stability and balancing services for the Belgium grid, as well as help shift renewable energy production into high energy demand periods,” Trafigura said.

“Efficient energy storage has a critical role in the low-carbon economy. Weather-reliant renewables, such as wind and solar, generate energy intermittently. This needs to be combined with high-capacity energy storage and rapid-release systems that can be used to align peaks and troughs in power generation with changing patterns in demand,” Julien Rolland, Head of Power and Renewables Trading for Trafigura said.

“Projects located on land associated with Nyrstar’s smelting operations are an early focus for Nala Renewables, with similar concepts being formulated for other assets, such as Puma Energy’s Puerto Rico facilities and the MATSA mine in southern Spain.”

“In this case we are keen to use the expertise and facilities we have at Nyrstar Balen to enable the connection between the Battery Energy Storage System and the Belgian grid,” Nyrstar’s CEO Daniel Vanin commented.

“It is an excellent fit with Nyrstar’s continuous move towards a sustainable operation. Our zinc smelters are among the most energy-efficient in the world and we already collaborate in large solar panel projects and meaningful wind energy projects in many of the countries where we operate.”

Nala Renewables was formed in 2020 by Trafigura, the majority owner of Nyrstar, and IFM Investors with the aim to invest in a series of solar, wind and power storage projects globally.

Over the next five years, Nala Renewables aims to build a portfolio with total generation capacity of two gigawatts from renewable sources, enough to power two million households.

Furthermore, Trafigura is planing to refinance circa $5.5 billion syndicated revolving credit facility to be refinanced in Q1 2021 as a sustainability-linked loan.

The group is targeting to reduce operational greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 30 percent in absolute terms by the end of financial year 2023, compared to 2020, targeting a sustainable reduction of over one million tonnes of CO2e from Group operations.

These activities include significant investments in green hydrogen and creation of Nala Renewables joint venture, through recently established Power and Renewables division.