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Bill Gates's Coalition of Rich Investors Buying In to Energy Storage

To reach goals in reducing emissions, Gates's group is looking to invest in technology that can provide energy in efficient ways by supplying clean power when the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing.
June 15, 2018, 5am PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Soonthorn Wongsaita

Bill Gates’s clean energy investment group, Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), founded with support from other billionaires like Richard Branson and Jack Ma, is targeting energy storage. This socially mind group sees energy storage as a source of innovation that could bring clean energy to more people around the world. "Energy storage can overcome the biggest limitation of modern renewable power: Solar panels and wind turbines can only generate energy when the sun is out or the wind is blowing," Akshat Rathi reports for Quartz.

These companies intend to move beyond even the recent innovations in lithium batteries."…the first two startups that BEV will be investing in: Form Energy and Quidnet Energy. Both companies are developing new technologies to store energy, but taking completely different approaches to achieve that goal," Rathi reports.

Form Energy is investigating ways to improve batteries so they run for longer periods of time more cost effectively. "Experts predict that lithium-ion battery costs will bottom out at about $100/kWh. The solution to store energy for weeks and months at a time then would be to develop batteries that can cost less than $10/kWh," Rathi reports. Form says they have two candidates to try to move beyond lithium batteries. "One of the candidate chemistries, Chiang confirmed, is a “sulfur-flow battery,” which he wrote about in some detail in the journal, Joule, in October 2017."

Quidnet, meanwhile, is looking at ways to store energy in water that moves turbines, an old practice with a new twist. "… but without the need for rivers or dams. Instead, it uses excess electricity to pump water into the underground shale rock found in new wells dug for the purpose or in abandoned oil-and-gas wells," Rathi writes.

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Published on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 in Quartz
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