A lot of money goes into long-term energy storage

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Long-term energy storage – defined as a system that can store energy for more than 10 hours – is often referred to as the holy grail of clean energy. This is the key technology that will allow the economy to truly operate on intermittent renewable energy sources and back-up power after grid disruptions.

It’s been the Next Big Thing for about 20 years. But maybe, just maybe, it’s really the next big thing right now.

In July, the Department of Energy launched an effort to reduce the costs of long-term energy storage by 90 percent by 2030 as part of its Energy Earthshot Initiative.

“We will be bringing hundreds of gigawatts of clean energy to the grid over the next few years, and we need to be able to use that energy where and when it’s needed,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said. in a press release. “This is why the DOE is aggressively working towards cheaper and longer lasting energy storage to reach the President [Joe] Biden’s goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035. “

Whether in the wake of Earthshot’s announcement or just at the right time, last month big investors backed various energy storage startups using new technology and promising low costs. Here are five major announcements from the past three weeks, and what makes their technologies unique.

Energy chest

The news: On August 25, Energy Vault announced $ 100 million in Series C funding, led by Prime Movers Lab alongside Saudi Aramco and Softbank Vision Fund. Following this news, Energy Vault announced an ad hoc acquisition company (SPAC) with Novus Capital II in a deal that landed the energy storage company on the New York Stock Exchange. The pro forma enterprise value of the combined company is $ 1.1 billion, according to a press release.

Technology: grid-scale gravity energy storage. The system uses excess renewable energy to raise bricks and then lowers the bricks to generate power during peak demand, all controlled by AI software and run autonomously.

Value proposition: An economical, reliable, safe to use and environmentally friendly energy storage system with a technical lifespan of 35 years.

Deployment Status: Energy Vault says it has eight projects in the pipeline for a total of 1.2 gigawatt hours of energy storage capacity, with deployments planned in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Australia.

FlexGen Power Systems

The news: On August 25, FlexGen Power Systems announced a Equity commitment of $ 150 million from funds managed by Apollo Global Management.

Technology: FlexGen promises grid and micro-grid scale energy storage, integrated with energy management software. The company started in 2009 providing energy storage to the military.

The value proposition: Integrated software to achieve “peak asset performance. “ The company sees the value of energy storage as the connection between hardware and software to optimize performance.

Deployment Status: The company has more than 20 large-scale energy storage projects listed on its website, primarily in Texas, which provides load transfer and ancillary services.

EnerVenue

The news: On September 15, EnerVenue announced $ 100 million in Series A funding – a monster spin for such an early stage company. Schlumberger New Energy led the investment, along with Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures and others.

Technology: Nickel-hydrogen batteries, which can operate in extreme heat and cold conditions and are currently cheaper than lithium-ion cells. Hydrogen nickel is also heavier than lithium-ion, making it less ideal for electric vehicles, although it is potentially a good option for grid-scale storage.

Value proposition: The company promises an energy storage solution with low initial and operational costs, durable and flexible. It started with NASA, powering the International Space Station and the Hubble Space Telescope, which the company points to as proof of the technology’s ability to operate in extreme conditions.

Malta

The news: On August 25, Malta Inc announced that it had lifted $ 60 million in Series B funding, backed by Chevron Technology Ventures and Piva Capital, have joined Proman, Alfa Laval, Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder of Facebook.

Technology: Malta uses a electrothermal technology which he calls a pumped thermal energy storage system, developed from X, the Moonshot Factory (formerly Google X). It works by converting electrical energy into thermal energy, storing heat in molten salt and cold in refrigerated liquid. It then uses a heat engine, powered by the temperature differential, which returns to electricity.

Value proposition: The technology prides itself on long-lasting, grid-scale, cost-effective energy storage technology. The company says it can efficiently store up to 200 hours of energy. Malta says the technology can also be used to generate heat for process heat applications.

Form energy

Form energy

The news: Form energy, a four-year company founded by a former Tesla employee, closed a $ 240 million Series D financing on Aug. 24, with investors including steel company ArcelorMittal.

Technology: The form uses a iron-air battery, which converts iron to rust and then rust back to iron, discharging and charging the battery in the process. The company says its battery can store electricity for 100 hours at competitive system costs compared to existing power plants.

The context: Form Energy made headlines in July when it announced that its long-life battery should be ready for mass production by 2025, at a fraction of the cost of other energy storage systems. While other companies have made similar promises, Form Energy says this time is different. “We are alumni of a generation of bankrupt battery companies who have all come back to find out more,” said Yet-Ming Chiang, one of the company’s co-founders. the Wall Street newspaper.

The value proposition: An inexpensive, long-lasting source of energy storage that is about to be commercialized. Form estimates it will spend less than $ 6 per kilowatt hour of storage, compared to $ 50 to $ 80 per kWh of nickel, cobalt, lithium or manganese ores.

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