“As we pursue our mission to enable renewable energy to replace fossil fuels 24 hours a day, we’re thrilled to partner with SoftBank Vision Fund as we expand our global presence,” said Robert Piconi, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Energy Vault.
Renewables have struggled historically to fully replace fossil fuel power as a result of production unpredictability and intermittency from reliance on variable factors such as wind and sunlight. In the absence of more efficient and cost-effective storage, the amount of electricity that can be delivered to the grid from renewable energy sources, even though now widely affordable, has been limited.
Energy Vault’s breakthrough technology was inspired by pumped hydro plants that rely on the power of gravity and the movement of water to store and discharge electricity. The company’s solution is based on the same well-understood fundamentals of physics and mechanical engineering used in those plants, but replaces water with custom made composite bricks through an innovative use of low-cost materials and material science.
The bricks, each weighing 35 metric tons, are combined with Energy Vault’s proprietary system design and machine vision software to operate a newly designed crane. The software autonomously orchestrates the energy storage tower and electricity charge/discharge utilizing predictive intelligence and a unique stack of proprietary algorithms that account for a variety of factors, including energy supply and demand volatility, grid stability, weather elements and other variables. As a result, the Energy Vault tower can deliver all the benefits of a large scale pumped hydro storage system, but at a much lower levelized cost.
Energy Vault will be demonstrating the first 35 MWh storage tower in the north of Italy in 2019. The company has also developed an extensive relationship with CEMEX that includes a technology collaboration and development agreement with CEMEX Research Group AG (Switzerland) as well as an investment from CEMEX Ventures announced in May 2019.
“Energy Vault is highly complementary to SoftBank’s existing energy portfolio and we are pleased to further the company’s global development,” said Akshay Naheta, Managing Partner for SoftBank Investment Advisers.