New battery maker EnerVenue raises $515 million in filing

EnerVenue, a startup that developed an alternative to lithium-ion batteries for long-duration renewable energy storage, is raising $515 million in new equity capital, per a filing with the SEC seen by TechCrunch.

The company is building a gigawatt-scale factory in Kentucky to produce its nickel-hydrogen batteries, a project that is estimated to cost $264 million. The company most recently raised $125 million in a Series A round closed in late 2021. Given the scale of the plant’s investment, it is likely that the new funds will be dedicated to the project.

So far, EnerVenue has raised $308 million of the $515 million goal, the filing said. A company spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment at the time of publication.

The startup’s nickel-hydrogen technology is based on batteries that were originally used to store energy aboard the International Space Station and in satellites, such as the Hubble Space Telescope. In many ways, the nickel-hydrogen battery is an ideal type of battery for spacecraft: the chemistry can withstand freezing cold and scorching heat, and it doesn’t lose much capacity over time, meaning that It can last as long as the machine is supposed to live. .

But nickel-hydrogen has always been expensive. For space applications, this is less of a concern; cost is often low on the priority list. But on Earth, cost tends to reign supreme.

The equation changed, however, when Yi Cui, a Stanford University professor and president of EnerVenue, tweaked the chemistry to eliminate expensive platinum. Cui expects this and other adjustments to help reduce the cost per kilowatt hour below $80 when batteries are produced at scale.

The batteries themselves look more like elongated scuba tanks than AA batteries. This is because they must contain hydrogen gas, which is released when the battery is charged.

Nickel-hydrogen batteries aren’t as energy dense as lithium-ion, meaning they won’t yet compete for space in electric vehicles. But because these batteries can withstand a wide range of temperatures, they don’t need expensive cooling equipment like lithium-ion cells. EnerVenue is betting that its compact layout and low maintenance requirements will attract the attention of utilities, which are looking for ways to store excess renewable energy. Last year, the startup said it had 7 gigawatt hours customer commitments.

The scale of the new cycle reflects the challenges facing many hardware-based climate technology companies when trying to expand to meet business demand. Building the first factory of its kind is often expensive, but the risks involved make infrastructure funds reluctant to provide the necessary credit. As a result, startups often have to raise large sums of money from venture capital firms, trading shares for the money needed to build large projects. Finding companies willing to take risks is an obstacle in itself.

EnerVenue appears to have at least partially…

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