Big money flows into long-duration energy storage
ong-duration energy storage — defined as a system that can store energy for more than 10 hours — is often called the Holy Grail of clean energy. It is the linchpin technology that will allow the economy to truly run off intermittent renewable energy sources and backup power after grid disruptions.
It’s been the Next Big Thing for about 20 years. But maybe, just maybe, it really is the next big thing right now.
In July, the Department of Energy launched an effort to push down costs of long-duration energy storage by 90 percent by 2030 as part of its Energy Earthshot Initiative.
“We’re going to bring hundreds of gigawatts of clean energy onto the grid over the next few years, and we need to be able to use that energy wherever and whenever it’s needed,” Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said in a statement. “That’s why DOE is working aggressively toward cheaper, longer-duration energy storage to reach President [Joe] Biden’s goal of 100 percent clean electricity by 2035.”
Whether a result of the Earthshot announcement or simply good timing, in the last month, big investors have backed a variety of energy storage startups using new technologies and promising low costs. Here are five major announcements from the last three weeks, and what makes their technologies unique.
The news: On Aug. 25, Energy Vault announced $100 million in Series C funding, led by Prime Movers Lab alongside Saudi Aramco and Softbank Vision Fund. Following that news, Energy Vault announced a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) with Novus Capital II in a deal that landed the energy storage venture on the New York Stock Exchange. The pro-forma enterprise value of the combined company is $1.1 billion, according to a press release.
The technology: gravity-based, grid-scale energy storage. The system uses excess renewable energy to raise bricks, then lowers the bricks to generate energy during peak demand — all controlled by AI software and executed autonomously.
Value proposition: An energy storage system that is cost-efficient, reliable, safe to operate and environmentally sustainable over a 35-year technical life. …