Digitalization, Energy Storage, Hydroelectric

Softbank invests $110M in new energy storage system

Energy Vault, the creator of a new way to perform utility-scale energy storage,  announced that SoftBank Vision Fund (Vision Fund) invested $110 million in its Series B funding round.

Energy Vault will use the funds to accelerate global deployment of its technology, which enables renewables to deliver baseload power for less than the cost of fossil fuels 24 hours a day, said the company. As part of the investment, Andreas Hansson, Partner for SoftBank Investment Advisers, will join the Energy Vault board of directors.

Energy Vault’s  technology was inspired by pumped hydro plants that rely on the power of gravity and the movement of water to store and discharge electricity.

The company’s solution is based on the same well-understood fundamentals of physics and mechanical engineering used in those plants, but replaces water with custom made composite bricks. The bricks, each weighing 35 metric tons, are combined with Energy Vault’s  system design and machine vision software to operate a newly designed crane, said the company in a press release.

Software autonomously orchestrates the energy storage tower and electricity charge/discharge utilizing predictive intelligence and a unique stack of proprietary algorithms that account for a variety of factors, including energy supply and demand volatility, grid stability, weather elements and other variables.

As a result, the technology can deliver all the benefits of a large scale pumped hydro storage system, but at a much lower levelized cost, higher roundtrip efficiency and without the requirement for specific land topography and negative environmental impacts, according to Energy Vault.

“As we pursue our mission to enable renewable energy to replace fossil fuels 24 hours a day, we’re thrilled to partner with SoftBank Vision Fund as we expand our global presence,” said Robert Piconi, chief executive and co-founder of Energy Vault. “The Vision Fund shares our passion to combat climate change through innovation in energy storage technologies and, with its support as a strategic partner, Energy Vault is well positioned to meet the large and currently unmet demand for sustainable and economical energy storage worldwide.”

Amit Sharma, Practice Head of Power at  data and analytics company GlobalData, said: “If Energy Vault’s system can deliver on its promise of much lower cost and higher roundtrip efficiency, it can become the technology of choice for energy storage applications. 

“GlobalData estimates that the battery energy storage systems market will more than double from $6.1bn in 2018 to $13.1bn by 2023. The energy storage system created by Energy Vault is truly a disruptive technology in the evolving energy storage industry, which has been growing very quickly.

“The system can be set up almost anywhere, and the technology allows wind and solar facilities to supply electricity to the grid 24 hours per day, in contrast to the grid-scale, lithium-ion battery packs that deliver power for just four hours.

“Softbank’s investment will prove profitable for companies looking for more affordable and bigger storage systems for renewable energy integration.”
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Energy storage will be a hot topic at POWERGEN Asia in Kuala Lumpur in two weeks, as well as across Clarion Energy’s other power events, including POWERGEN EuropePOWERGEN International and POWERGEN India.