Form Energy Raises Another $70M for Long-Duration Storage

Form Energy raised a $70 million Series C to scale its
super-long-duration energy storage technology.

That investment was
first reported by Reuters
�Friday, without naming the
participating investors. It brings Form Energy’s total funds raised
to around $120 million, a hefty sum for a novel technology that’s
still a few years away from its first commercial deployment.

Lithium-ion batteries dominate nearly all the grid storage that
is being installed today, but that
technology’s cost-effectiveness wanes in applications geared
to store energy for many hours or days. Entrepreneurs have pursued
a motley crew of alternatives to turn wind and solar power into
baseload power plants: things like flow batteries of various
chemistries, gravity-based systems that mimic pumped hydro
storage and compressed air in caverns or tanks. But the
long-duration storage sector has produced more bankruptcies and
delays than surefire successes.

See GTM’s previous coverage:
So, what exactly is long-duration energy storage?

Form Energy burst
onto the scene
in 2018 with a founding team of veteran energy
storage leaders, including co-founder Mateo Jaramillo, the former
director of Tesla’s stationary storage business. It launched with a
$9 million Series A backed by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Prelude
Ventures, Macquarie Capital, Saudi Aramco, and Massachusetts
Institute of Technology offshoot The Engine.

The company scoured the known energy-storing materials for
ingredients that could deliver days or weeks of storage at
radically lower cost than lithium-ion. Initially, the founders told
Greentech Media that their path to commercialization could
take a decade
 â€” a decidedly sober approach compared to
the rosy projections other startups in the space had touted.

But Form’s activities quickly began to pick up speed. It raised
$40 million Series B
in 2019, bringing in strategic investors
such as Italian oil and gas giant Eni. That funding came after Form
developed a “fully functioning cell that was hitting the technical
marks,” Jaramillo told GTM at the time. The Series B funding was
earmarked for scaling up the cell by 10 to 100 times and turning it
into a fully engineered product, he noted.

In the spring of 2020, Form won its first publicly acknowledged
contract: a
1-megawatt/150-megawatt-hour “aqueous air” system
for Minnesota
utility Great River Energy, due in 2023. A 1 MW battery no longer
draws attention, but nothing on the market had come close to 150
hours of duration for megawatt-scale discharge.

The $70 million round arrives as Form looks to broader
commercialization for a product that it believes has market pull in
the next few years. 

Throughout all this, Form has kept the nature of its technology
a closely held secret. Though some media outlets describe it as
sulfur chemistry, Jaramillo previously clarified to Greentech Media
that his team worked on an aqueous sulfur flow battery chemistry
and an undisclosed electrochemical solution. They ultimately chose
to commercialize the latter, while pursuing the sulfur technology
with a research
and development grant
from the Department of Energy, indicating
a longer pathway to market for that design, which suffers from low
round-trip efficiency.

The market for long-duration storage is still coming into
existence, but a few developments signaled greater traction taking
hold this year. California’s energy regulator called for
1 gigawatt of long-duration storage
to be installed in the
state by 2026. In October, a group of community-choice aggregators
in California launched the
first major solicitation
dedicated to long-duration energy
storage. Earlier this month, liquid air storage company Highview
Power recently began construction on a 50 MW/250 MWh plant near
Manchester, which will test the economic viability of that
technology in the U.K. power markets. 

Source: FS – GreenTech Media
Form Energy Raises Another M for Long-Duration