Ore Energy Unveils New Long-Lasting Utility-Scale Batteries

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In the Netherlands, where Aytac Yilmaz resides, prolonged periods without sunlight can significantly hinder the performance of solar panels. While wind turbines might compensate somewhat, their effectiveness diminishes if the wind dies down simultaneously.

This is where long-duration energy storage solutions, or large-scale batteries for the electrical grid, come into play. Currently, most of these are lithium-ion batteries, widely available due to automotive industry demand but still quite costly. Yilmaz envisions a future where these batteries are made from affordable, plentiful iron.

His startup, Ore Energy, has emerged from stealth mode today, announcing €10 million in seed funding from Positron Ventures and other investors, as exclusively shared with Truth Voices. This funding will support their mission to make grid-scale batteries both cheaper and longer-lasting.

“We aim for around 100 hours of storage to effectively bridge longer gaps in renewable power generation,” Yilmaz told Truth Voices. “The more renewables integrated into the grid, the longer the duration of storage needed.”

Ore Energy’s central technology originated from TU Delft in the Netherlands, where Yilmaz studied corrosion during his PhD and postdoc. These batteries generate energy through the rusting of iron and store energy by reversing the corrosion process.

Unlike other batteries that come pre-loaded with all necessary chemicals, Ore Energy’s batteries draw one of their main reactants, oxygen, from the air. Hence, the term iron-air battery. “The batteries essentially inhale and exhale oxygen, enabling these reactions,” Yilmaz explained.

The company is already collaborating with utilities, Yilmaz added, and their technology is ready for commercial-scale production. Part of the new funding will be used to build a megawatt-scale factory, with ambitions to have a gigawatt-scale facility operating by the end of the decade. “The ultimate goal is to deeply decarbonize the grid during the 2030s,” he stated.

Ore Energy is not the only startup developing iron-air batteries. In the U.S., Form Energy is considered a leader and has been honing its technology for years, having raised $928 million at a $2.06 billion post-money valuation, according to PitchBook. The company is nearing completion of its first large-scale factory in West Virginia, aiming to begin production later this year.

Although Form Energy has a considerable head start, Yilmaz believes there’s room for multiple players in this field. “Form Energy is doing an excellent job in the U.S.,” he said. “We share the same objective to transform the electricity grid in Europe.”

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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