A new battery startup based out of Martigny, Switzerland — the Alevo Group — has, reportedly, raised over $1 billion in funding from anonymous Swiss investors, and is now aiming to “revolutionize” the US energy storage industry/market.
The company has created a new battery that lasts notably longer than the current industry standard, according to the company, as well as being considerably cheaper to manufacture.
The company’s plan is to sell the batteries as grid-scale energy storage devices. The battery has been in development for about a decade, in secret, according to those involved.
“We’ve been very stealth,” stated Jostein Eikeland, a Norwegian entrepreneur backing the company. “We didn’t know if we were going to succeed.”
The Alevo Group is currently aiming to begin manufacturing the batteries in 2015, at a large ex-cigarette-plant near Charlotte, North Carolina. The company’s expectation is that it will employ around 2,500 people within three years of opening.
Interestingly, the battery — developed by Alessandro Volta — will be produced without any state funding or incentives, but financed entirely through anonymous investors. Hmmm.
One billion dollars is a significant amount of money for a cleantech startup. Given the company’s plan of going straight into full production, and skipping the pilot project phase, the funding is, I suppose, necessary. But it certainly remains to be seen if the strategy will be a successful one.
The advantage of such an approach is obviously that economies of scale will be in play from the start — potentially allowing for “low-costs” from the start of production.
The company is aiming to produce and deliver roughly 200 MW worth of batteries in 2015.
Here’s a bit of an explanation of the company’s technology, via Reuters:
The company has created what it calls GridBanks, which are shipping containers full of thousands of battery cells. Each container can deliver 2 MW of power, enough to power up to 1,300 homes for an hour.
The batteries use lithium iron phosphate and graphite as active materials and an inorganic electrolyte — what Eikeland called the company’s “secret sauce” — that extends longevity and reduces the risk of burning. They can be charged and discharged over 40,000 times, the company said.
If everything is as the company claims, this is a very significant development.
Something sounds perhaps too good to be true though, doesn’t it?
We’ll find out soon enough though. Along with the construction of Tesla’s Gigafactory and a bunch of grid storage pilot projects, this development means that 2015 should make for an interesting year in the battery industry.
Image Credit: Alevo Group
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