Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and a group of influential billionaires are investing in 2 startups that could solve the biggest problem with renewable energy
- Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and a group of billionaires are investing in two energy storage startups through their fund, Breakthrough Ventures.
- Energy storage is one of the biggest bottlenecks in the widespread adoption of renewable energy.
- Breakthrough Ventures’ fund is designed to be “patient capital,” which means it doesn’t mind waiting a long time to see returns.
Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and a host of their uber-rich compatriots are investing in two energy startups that could solve one of the biggest problems with renewable energy.
They’re investing through a $1 billion fund, Breakthrough Ventures (BEV), which announced last year that energy storage would be one of its main focuses.
Launched in 2016, the fund also includes LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, Alibaba CEO Jack Ma, and David Rubenstein, executive chairman of the private equity giant Carlyle Group.
Part of BEV’s mission is to provide “patient capital.” That means BEV is willing to forgo returns on investment for up to 20 years to give the scientists and engineers at these startups enough lead time to develop world-changing technologies.
On Tuesday, Quartz revealed BEV’s first two investments: Form Energy and Quidnet Energy.
Both startups have developed different techniques to store energy – one of the biggest bottlenecks in the widespread adoption of renewable energy sources.
Quidnet Energy’s technology uses water to store energy in a novel way. Using excess electricity, Quidnet pumps water into repurposed or unused oil-and-gas wells within shale rock formations. When the liquid is pumped in, the water fills cracks in the rock, creating pressure.
To generate electricity, Quidnet releases the water, and the pent-up pressure is used to run turbines and generate electricity.
Form Energy – which counts an MIT professor and a former Tesla engineer among its leadership – is working on developing a super-efficient battery that could store large amounts of energy for long periods of time.
Batteries costs are generally measured by how much it costs to store a kilowatt-hour of energy. Form Energy is developing battery technology that could cost as little as $10 per kWh – the cheapest batteries today are around $200 per kWh, reports Quartz.
That ultimately has the potential to bring down the cost of electric vehicles by making it cheaper to produce the batteries, in addition to extending vehicle range. It could also make powering homes through solar more cost-effective.