Form Energy revealed the investors in its recent $76 million funding round.
The stealthy company’s Series C was led by Coatue Management. Funding in the startup now totals more than $125 million from investors including NGP Energy Technology Partners III, Energy Impact Partners, Temasek, BEV, Prelude, The Engine, Capricorn, and Macquarie.
Form Energy remains a secretive, long-duration energy storage startup that has revealed its fundamental energy storage technology as an “aqueous air battery system” that “leverages some of the safest, cheapest, most abundant materials on the planet” in order to commercially deploy a 1 MW/150 MWh long-duration storage solution.
Typical lithium ion battery storage systems provide four hours of storage compared to Form’s remarkable of 150 hours of storage. It’s not exactly the “seasonal” storage that Mateo Jaramillo, CEO of Form Energy, had spoken of in the past — but it’s a few orders of magnitude better than what can be done today.
Unconfirmed sources claim that Form’s sulfur battery chemistry can only support very low discharge rates “and they’re trying to pass it off as an advantage. Pretty much any battery can hold energy for 150 hours or more.”
The CEO, an energy storage veteran, has referred to the company’s product as a “bi-directional power plant” and claims that this level of duration allows for “a fundamentally new reliability function to be provided to the grid from storage, one historically only available from thermal generation resources.”
The first project
Form Energy’s first commercial project is a 1 MW, grid-connected storage system capable of delivering its rated power continuously for 150 hours with Minnesota-based utility Great River Energy.
Great River Energy is a not-for-profit wholesale electric power cooperative that provides electricity to 28 member-owner distribution cooperatives, serving 700,000 families, farms and businesses. It’s Minnesota’s second-largest electric utility.
“Commercially viable long-duration storage could increase reliability by ensuring that the power generated by renewable energy is available at all hours to serve our membership. Such storage could be particularly important during extreme weather conditions that last several days. Long-duration storage also provides an excellent hedge against volatile energy prices,” said Great River Energy VP Jon Brekke, in a release.
“A true low-cost, long-duration energy storage solution that can sustain output for days, would fill gaps in wind and solar energy production that would otherwise require firing up a fossil-fueled power plant,” said Jesse Jenkins, an assistant professor at Princeton University.
True low-cost, long-duration energy storage has always been the missing piece in making intermittent wind and solar act like baseload thermal generation year-round.
While there’s been a lot of chatter about long-duration energy storage, other than pumped hydro, there’s been little in the form of commercial deployment. Companies that have pursued long-duration energy storage include:
- Flow battery firms such as Primus, Invinity, Sumitomo, UET, ESS and ViZn
- Gravity-based approaches such as Gravity Power, Ares Power, and Energy Vault
- Compressed air or gas approaches such as Hydrostor and Highview Power
- Thermal storage such as Antora Energy and Pintail Power.
Form was founded in 2017.
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A 100% Solar based Energy System… requires about 20-25% Storage for Sunset-to Sunrise needs plus some margin for operating flexibility…. therefore such a System would Charge for ~ 10hrs and discharge for ~ 14hrs…. therefore a 1MW System…. would discharge about 7MW for 14 hrs…. in other words …. 1MW/10MWhrs…. plus some Operating Margin …. not sure the basis behind 1MW/150MWhrs…. this “design basis” maybe for a specific application…. but distorts the Sunset-to-Sunrise Energy Storage needs…..
My understanding is that the discharge rate is so long because the output is so low. Basically, the system can’t deliver 37.5MW for 4 hours, but can deliver 1MW for 150 hours. As someone in another forum commented – they turned a negative into a possible positive. I’m not sure there is a huge market for 6.25 days of storage discharge.
How useless is a battery that can’t even put out 1% of it’s capacity?
Got to admit a great marketing ploy to make this sow’s ear into a silk purse.
Any battery can do this but only ones that can’t do better do.
It’s all a slick presentation to gain as many investors as possible on something that really isn’t all that special. The first thing they did was make it’s tech a secret, then they made grand claims about it’s capabilities and now it’s time to sell it as an exclusive ticket item in the hottest topic with investors today; energy storage. Looks like they got a nice first round.
The comments about “any battery can be very long duration” are missing the point entirely. Yes, of course it is true that any battery can be discharged slowly. The question is whether it can be used that way and compete in the market. Form’s battery may have very limited discharge power, but it also has to be very, very inexpensive compared to lithium ion, for example (or else it’s DOA). It’s the crazy low $/kWh costs that should be headline grabbing, in addition to the duration.
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