We talk a lot about investing in the future, and for so many businesses, that means investing in energy. How we power our facilities doesn’t just change the bottom line; it changes the world. As we move into 2021, we’re looking to keep close tabs on that investment from the perspective of companies creating the technology that will save the world.
Long-duration energy storage is a key element in the future of sustainability and renewable energy at grid-scale. We’ve covered the basics of long-duration energy storage before, focused primarily on California’s work to bring the technology up to speed on a relatively rapid timeline. One of the challenges in even discussing energy storage, however, is finding a consensus on what constitutes ‘long’ duration. In California, that’s eight hours at 50mWh.
Increasing the capacity of such facilities is the focus of a number of start-ups, including Malta Inc., a company that designs electro-thermal energy storage plants. As companies like Malta work to scale up their business, they’re really working at scaling up their storage capacity in what is turning into an arm’s race between engineers to store more energy, more efficiently, for longer periods of time.
Malta claims to have the plans and technology to over energy storage capacity of over 200 hours, though they admit that, for now, the realistic parameters for more immediate use is closer to 10-12 hours. Their design takes renewable energy and stores it in molten salt. The production runs off cold energy stored in vats of cooling liquid then converting that heat back into electrical energy through a heat engine.
The company has impressive roots that include early days in a Google-backed incubator before being spun-off on its own. The project recently raised $50 million in funding, including investment from Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Venture.
But Malta is just one of a half-dozen companies from around the world looking at pumped-heat energy storage that varies as much in material and location as they do in actual output. Companies like RayGen, EnergyNest, and HighviewPower are also competing for valuable investment capital.
What renewable energy technologies do you want to learn more about? Let us and we’ll cover it!