Battery maker EnerVenue raising $515M


EnerVenue, a company innovating in the space of long-duration renewable energy storage with its lithium-ion battery alternatives, is in the process of raising $515 million in new equity, according to an SEC filing.

The company is working on establishing a gigawatt-scale facility in Kentucky to manufacture its nickel-hydrogen batteries, a project valued at $264 million. Previously, the company secured $125 million in a Series A funding round that concluded in late 2021. Given the scale of this factory investment, it is likely that the newly raised funds will be allocated towards this project.

To date, EnerVenue has secured $308 million of the $515 million target, according to the filing. A company representative was not immediately available for comment at the time of publication.

EnerVenue’s nickel-hydrogen battery technology is rooted in the batteries initially developed for use on the International Space Station and in satellites, such as the Hubble Space Telescope. Nickel-hydrogen batteries are ideal for space because they can endure extreme temperatures and maintain their capacity over time, matching the lifespan of the spacecraft.

Historically, nickel-hydrogen batteries have been cost-prohibitive. However, cost is less of an issue for space applications where other factors take precedence. On Earth, however, cost is often the critical element.

The landscape shifted when Yi Cui, a Stanford University professor and chairman of EnerVenue, modified the battery chemistry to eliminate costly platinum. Cui believes these adjustments and other innovations will reduce the cost per kilowatt-hour to below $80 once the batteries are produced at scale.

The physical design of these batteries bears more resemblance to extended SCUBA tanks than traditional AA batteries. This design is necessary because the batteries need to contain gaseous hydrogen released during the charging process.

Despite nickle-hydrogen batteries being less energy dense compared to lithium-ion, making them currently unsuitable for electric vehicles, their ability to operate across a broad temperature range eliminates the need for costly cooling equipment required by lithium-ion cells. EnerVenue is betting that the compact design and minimal maintenance will appeal to utility companies seeking efficient ways to store surplus renewable energy. Last year, the company reported having commitments for 7 gigawatt-hours from customers.

The magnitude of this new funding round underscores the challenges faced by many hardware-focused climate tech companies when scaling up to meet commercial demands. Establishing a first-of-its-kind factory is costly, and the associated risks often deter infrastructure funds from providing the necessary credit. Consequently, startups frequently resort to securing substantial sums from venture capital firms, exchanging equity for the capital required to execute large-scale projects. Identifying willing firms is a significant challenge in itself.

EnerVenue seems to have overcome at least part of this challenge, attracting enough investors for a substantial Series B. The next steps involve completing the construction of the factory, ramping up production, and deploying its innovative batteries to the market.

Tim De Chant
Tim De Chant
Senior climate reporter. Previously, Tim has written for Wired magazine, The Wire China, the Chicago Tribune, and NOVA Next, among others, and he is also a lecturer in MIT’s Graduate Program in Science Writing. De Chant was awarded a Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at MIT in 2018, and he received his PhD in environmental science, policy, and management from the University of California, Berkeley.

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