Energy vault lands $110M from softBank’s vision fund for gravity storage

(Greentech Media, 15 Aug 2019) The investment is large by the standards of most startups, but it’s in keeping with the capital costs Energy Vault will face in scaling up its technology.

Energy Vault, the Swiss-U.S. startup that says it can store and discharge electrical energy through a super-sized concrete-and-steel version of a child’s erector set, has landed a $110 million investment from Japan’s SoftBank Vision Fund to take its technology to commercial scale. 

Energy Vault, a spinout of Pasadena-based incubator Idealab and co-founded by Idealab CEO and billionaire investor Bill Gross, unstealthed in November with its novel approach to using gravity to store energy.

Simply put, Energy Vault plans to build storage plants — dubbed “Evies” — consisting of a 35-story crane with six arms, surrounded by a tower consisting of thousands of concrete bricks, each weighing about 35 tons. 

This plant will “store” energy by using electricity to run the cranes that lift bricks from the ground and stack them atop of the tower, and “discharge” energy by reversing that process. It’s a mechanical twist on the world’s most common energy storage technology, pumped hydro, which “stores” energy by pumping water uphill, and lets it fall to spin turbines when electricity is needed. 

But behind this simplicity lies some heavy-duty software to orchestrate the cranes and blocks, with a "unique stack of proprietary algorithms" to balance energy supply and demand, volatility, grid stability, weather elements and other variables.

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Greentech Media, 15 Aug 2019: Energy vault lands $110M from softBank’s vision fund for gravity storage