November 16, 2020

SAEV portfolio company form energy raises $70M in Series C, as they continue to pioneer long-duration renewable energy storage

That investment was first reported by Reuters Friday, without naming the participating investors. It brings Form Energy’s total funds raised to around $120 million, a hefty sum for a novel technology that’s still a few years away from its first commercial deployment.

Lithium-ion batteries dominate nearly all the grid storage that is being installed today, but that technology’s cost-effectiveness wanes in applications geared to store energy for many hours or days. Entrepreneurs have pursued a motley crew of alternatives to turn wind and solar power into baseload power plants: things like flow batteries of various chemistries, gravity-based systems that mimic pumped hydro storage and compressed air in caverns or tanks. But the long-duration storage sector has produced more bankruptcies and delays than surefire successes.

Form Energy burst onto the scene in 2018 with a founding team of veteran energy storage leaders, including co-founder Mateo Jaramillo, the former director of Tesla’s stationary storage business. It launched with a $9 million Series A backed by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Prelude Ventures, Macquarie Capital, Saudi Aramco, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology offshoot The Engine.

The company scoured the known energy-storing materials for ingredients that could deliver days or weeks of storage at radically lower cost than lithium-ion. Initially, the founders told Greentech Media that their path to commercialization could take a decade — a decidedly sober approach compared to the rosy projections other startups in the space had touted.

But Form’s activities quickly began to pick up speed. It raised a $40 million Series B in 2019, bringing in strategic investors such as Italian oil and gas giant Eni. That funding came after Form developed a “fully functioning cell that was hitting the technical marks,” Jaramillo told GTM at the time. The Series B funding was earmarked for scaling up the cell by 10 to 100 times and turning it into a fully engineered product, he noted.