Holtec International, the Camden energy firm primarily focused on nuclear power, has formed a joint venture with Eos Energy Storage to produce utility-scale battery systems used in the expanding market for renewable power.

Privately held Holtec announced this week that it plans to open a multi-gigawatt assembly facility at the Holtec manufacturing plant in Turtle Creek, Pa., outside Pittsburgh. The joint venture, Hi-Power LLC, will produce Eos Energy’s aqueous zinc batteries, which store large amounts of power that can be dispatched instantly into the electric grid.

Holtec’s primary business is related to nuclear generation — it builds dry-cask storage systems for nuclear waste, manufactures some components of nuclear power plants, and decommissions old reactors. But the market for its next-generation small modular nuclear reactor has been slow to lift off.

“Although we continue to invest in our nuclear business and believe in the future of our small modular reactor program for low carbon baseload energy, we recognize that renewables must also play a critical role in reducing carbon emissions going forward," Rick Springman, Holtec’s vice president of international projects, said in a statement.

Holtec last year bought a “significant stake” in Eos Energy Storage, which is based in Edison, N.J. Eos batteries are zinc hybrid cathodes, which the company says are safer than lithium ion batteries — they can operate across a wide temperature range without heating or cooling and without risk of fire or explosion. The batteries are made from recyclable commodity materials and use no rare earth materials.

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As renewable generation grows in importance, the market for energy-storage systems is expected to play a key role. Wind and solar systems produce power intermittently, depending upon the weather, and grid operators say they will need more storage systems as renewable energy takes a bigger share of the power-generation market.

Hi-Power has produced Eos battery systems at Holtec’s Camden plant, but will begin large-scale production in November at Holtec’s 700,000-square-foot fabrication shop in Turtle Creek, the former Westinghouse East Pittsburgh Works. No jobs will be lost in Camden during the transition, said Joe Delmar, Holtec’s senior director of government affairs and communications.

Holtec portrayed the battery systems primarily as an accessory to its SMR-160 small modular reactor, to allow the storage and delivery of power to the grid during peak periods.

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“We have entered the battery industry to provide the means to store large quantities of electrical energy from nuclear, solar, and other renewable energy generation facilities and deliver power to the user on demand," Kris Singh, Holtec’s president and chief executive, said in a statement. “The availability of a suitably sized battery-powered energy storage plant will make our SMR-160 reactor even more valuable to our customers.”