Inside Form Energy, the Star-Studded Startup Tackling the Toughest Problem in Energy Storage
June 18, 2018
Industry veterans from Tesla, Aquion and A123 are trying to create cost-effective energy storage to last for weeks and months.
A crew of battle-tested cleantech veterans raised serious cash to solve the thorniest problem in clean energy.
As wind and solar power supply more and more of the grid's electricity, seasonal swings in production become a bigger obstacle. A low- or no-carbon electricity system needs a way to dispatch clean energy on demand, even when wind and solar aren't producing at their peaks.
Four-hour lithium-ion batteries can help on a given day, but energy storage for weeks or months has yet to arrive at scale.
Into the arena steps Form Energy, a new startup whose founders hope for commercialization not in a couple of years, but in the next decade.
More surprising, they’ve secured $9 million in Series A funding from investors who are happy to wait that long. The funders include both a major oil company and an international consortium dedicated to stopping climate change.
“Renewables have already gotten cheap,” said co-founder Ted Wiley, who worked at saltwater battery company Aquion prior to its bankruptcy. “They are cheaper than thermal generation. In order to foster a change, they need to be just as dependable and just as reliable as the alternative. Only long-duration storage can make that happen.”
It’s hard to overstate just how difficult it will be to deliver.
The members of Form will have to make up the playbook as they go along. The founders, though, have a clear-eyed view of the immense risks. They’ve systematically identified materials that they think can work, and they have a strategy for proving them out.
Wiley and Mateo Jaramillo, who built the energy storage business at Tesla, detailed their plans in an exclusive interview with Greentech Media, describing the pathway to weeks- and months-long energy storage and how it would reorient the entirety of the grid.