Climate-conscious venture capitalists are back

“TO SOME EXTENT, we try to scare off investors,” admits Mateo Jaramillo, co-founder of Form Energy. The startup is trying to solve one of renewables’ knottiest problems. Solar and wind power are intermittent, so green utility firms must store excess energy and release it when no sun shines or breeze blows. Large lithium-ion batteries can discharge energy for up to four hours. Form Energy, founded in 2017, wants to extend that to days with a different, and undisclosed, battery technology. In May it announced a pilot project with Great River Energy, a Minnesotan utility. So star-studded is its team of founders that a rival’s boss calls it “the Travelling Wilburys of energy storage”, in reference to the 1980s supergroup featuring George Harrison and Bob Dylan. Still, Mr Jaramillo does not expect to start scaling up until 2025.

The combination of long wait times and unproven technology would give many venture capital (VC) investors the jitters. Most want to see returns in five to seven years. Form Energy has more patient backers. They include Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), a fund set up by Bill Gates and supported by other billionaires; Eni Next, the Italian oil firm’s VC arm; and The Engine, a fund run by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This reflects the evolving nature of the green VC ecosystem, which is teeming again...

via Business Feeds

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