WASHINGTON, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Form Energy, a startup
planning to make battery systems that can efficiently store wind
and solar energy for long periods of time, recently landed its
biggest batch of funding, its chief executive told Reuters on
Mateo Jaramillo, the chief executive and co-founder of
Massachusetts-based Form Energy, said the company has closed
Series C funding of more than $70 million, a milestone that had
not been previously reported. Funding in the company now totals
more than $120 million. Jaramillo did not name the investors,
but said details will be released in a couple weeks.
"It's an acknowledgement from these new investors ... that
this market is here and coming faster than people had realized,"
Jaramillo told Reuters. He spoke during a video interview that
will be part of Reuters Events Energy Transition North America
Renewable energy advocates see improvements in battery
storage as the missing piece of the puzzle that can help nudge
gas and coal burning power plants out of the market.
Jaramillo, who previously headed the stationary battery team
at Tesla, co-founded Form Energy in 2017. His company
aims to make batteries that can dispatch energy for days,
greatly expanding the ability to supply electricity generated
from wind and solar power to the grid.
Current batteries, mostly made from lithium-ion, only last
about four hours. Combining new and current batteries could
provide a source of "renewable baseload" power with potential to
replace plants that burn natural gas and coal, that emit large
amounts of greenhouse gases.
While making such a plan commercial is an ambitious
undertaking, any success with the technology could assist
President-elect Joe Biden with his campaign plan to make the
power grid free of carbon emissions by 2035.
"Certainly there's a good chance for there to be sort of an
extra boon for us in the market," Jaramillo said of Biden's plan
to make tackling climate change one of the pillars of his
platform. "But I will say that (power) storage maybe is the last
remaining bipartisan issue in Congress," he said.
Form is keeping the chemicals and materials expected to be
used in its batteries secret, but Jaramillo said they are
"fundamentally abundant and cheap."
Form has received previous funding from Bill Gates'
Breakthrough Energy Ventures, The Engine, which is affiliated
with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Prelude
Ventures, a climate impact venture capital fund, and others.
Lockheed Martin is among the other companies hoping
to build long duration batteries to expand use of renewable
power on the grid.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by David Gregorio)