Vision Fund makes a $ 110 million bet on renewable energy storage

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LONDON (Reuters) – Softbank Group (9984.T) Vision Fund has conducted its first energy storage technology search with a $ 110 million investment in Energy Vault based in Switzerland.

PHOTO FILE: SoftBank Group Corp's logo can be found at the company's headquarters in Tokyo, 30 June, 2016. REUTERS / Toru Hanai / Photo File

While many countries are keen to use renewable energy as part of efforts to reduce carbon emissions in the fight against climate change, the challenge is to find a way to store it for later use, t especially overnight or when demand increases.

Due to the physics and mechanical engineering used in hydro plants, Energy Vault says that its renewable energy technology allows storage in 35 tons bricks and is delivered as base load power for less than fossil fuel costs at any time. day.

Most of the rival solutions focus on some kind of battery storage, whether it's lithium ion, sodium-sulfur, lead-acid, among other things. While costs are falling – almost 40% since 2015 according to Wood Mackenzie – most of them are degrading over time.

“Vault Energy solves a long-term and complex problem of scale-storage of renewable energy,” said Akshay Naheta, management partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, in a statement on Thursday, announcing a $ 110 million investment from the Vision Fund. “Energy Vault is very complementary to the current SoftBank energy portfolio and we are delighted to promote the company's global development.” T

Energy Vault was launched in late 2018 and is already in partnership with a Mexico material company CEMEX and India's Tata Power Company as it seeks to complete a test phase and then the first commercially operated site. to take.

Despite being invested at a later stage in company development, Softbank believed that Vault Energy could quickly achieve a scale and that a later round of funding may not be necessary, so Naheta said it was.

It is a great reward to be there. The global energy storage market is expected to reach 22.2 GW in 2023, from almost 5 GW at the end of 2018, according to a report in May by the data and analytics company GlobalData.

Robert Piconi, chief executive and co-founder of Energy Vault, said that while he intended to grow the country of business by country, the scale of the global demand for a scalable solution made them move faster.

“The Vision Fund is keen to combat climate change through innovation in energy storage technologies and, due to its support as a strategic partner, Energy Vault is well placed to meet the current high demand for storage. sustainable and economic energy in the world, ”Piconi said.

Additional reporting by Nina Chestney; Edited by Susan Fenton

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