Quidnet Energy co-founder Aaron Mandell says this abandoned well at the Blue Mountain Geothermal Area in Nevada could store up to 30 megawatt-hours of electricity in the form of compressed water. (Aaron Mandell via Twitter)
Eighteen months after its founding, the $1 billion Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund’s first investments have been revealed, and they both have to do with energy storage systems.
Quartz reports today that millions of dollars are going to Form Energy, which is working on novel chemistries for low-cost, long-term, high-density batteries; and Quidnet Energy, which aims to store power in the form of highly compressed water.
Breakthrough Energy Ventures is notable for its investors as well as its investments: The fund draws upon contributions from high-profile billionaires including Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma.
When the fund was created in 2016 as an outgrowth of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, Gates said its goal was “to build companies that will help deliver the next generation of reliable, affordable and emissions-free energy to the world.”
In addition to grid-scale energy storage, the fund’s target technologies include zero-carbon liquid fuels, micro grids, low-carbon building materials and geothermal energy.
Energy storage technologies are powerful enablers for renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, which can produce surplus electricity but are intermittent. Grid-scale storage systems are needed to provide 24/7 reliability.
Hydroelectric dam systems are the oldest and simplest means of energy storage, and Washington state’s reliance on hydro helps explains why its electric rates rank among the lowest in the U.S.
Texas-based Quidnet is working on an unorthodox approach to hydro power, which involves using surplus electricity from solar or wind to pump water into shale-rock formations or abandoned petroleum wells.
The water would be …read more