The main challenge of depending on renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power is that the weather has to cooperate. You need ample sunlight to generate solar energy and a strong wind current to generate wind power. One way to solve the problem is to use battery-powered energy systems when other clean energy sources are unavailable.
That’s the focus at Form Energy. The Somerville, Massachusetts-based startup develops and manufactures multi-day energy storage systems that enable a reliable and fully renewable electric grid year-round.
Form Energy’s first commercial product is an “iron-air” battery capable of storing electricity for 100 hours at costs designed to be competitive with legacy power plants.
As Energy Storage News reported, the technology could enable renewable energy to be a direct replacement for fossil fuels on the grid, helping energy suppliers ride out quiet periods of wind and solar generation.
One thing that separates Form Energy’s battery from other models is that it has the potential to store renewable energy “so cheaply that a power plant can deliver emissions-free energy around the clock for days on end,” Canary Media reported. In contrast, lithium-ion batteries currently used in new grid storage can’t cost-effectively store energy for more than a few hours.
“We’re trying to zag while everybody is zigging,” Form Energy CEO and Co-Founder Mateo Jaramillo told Canary Media in an interview.
Jaramillo co-founded the company in 2017 with Ted Wiley, its President and Chief Operating Officer, and William Woodford, who serves as Chief Technology Officer. The trio brought a high pedigree to Form Energy, with a combined experience that included stints at Tesla, McDonough Innovation, and 24M Technologies.
Form Energy has attracted plenty of investor interest since launching five years ago. Its latest influx of capital came in early October when the company raised $450 million in a Series E funding round led by TPC Rise. Other participants included GIC, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, and existing investors ArcelorMittal, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Capricorn Investment Group, Coatue, Energy Impact Partners, MIT’s The Engine, NGP ETP, Temasek, Prelude Ventures, and VamosVentures.
Proceeds from the round will go toward building Form Energy’s first full-scale battery manufacturing facility. At the time of the announcement, the company was scouting sites to house the plant and had narrowed its search to three unnamed states.
“Form continues to demonstrate its ability to rapidly advance and scale long-duration energy storage technology,” Marc Mezvinsky, Partner at TPG, said in a press release. “The company is a leader in a market that is a critical part of the energy transition. We are delighted to deepen our partnership with Mateo and the team as they position Form for its next phase of growth and innovation.”
The 2022 Series E round followed a 2021 Series D round that raised $240 million for Form Energy. Among the key investors has been ArcelorMittal, the Luxembourg-based steel company that invested $25 million in the 2021 round and followed it up with another $17.5 million in the latest round. Form Energy and ArcelorMittal signed a joint development agreement to see whether the steel company could supply direct reduced iron (DRI) for use in Form Energy’s batteries.
In addition to its battery storage technology, Form Energy is developing a next-generation grid modeling toolkit called Formware. It uses multi-year, hourly resolution data sets to capture real-world weather variability.