Cameron Dales (L), president and chief industrial officer of Peak Energy, and Landon Mossburg, the CEO of Peak Energy, on a hike within the earliest days of the corporate. The mountains of Colorado within the background impressed the identify of the corporate, Peak Energy.
Photo courtesy Peak Energy
Battery business veterans are coming collectively to launch Peak Energy, which goals to mass-produce large batteries to even out manufacturing fluctuations from renewable vitality sources, like wind and solar energy mills.
Because Peak Energy is concentrated on scaling up manufacturing of battery expertise that already exists, they do not consider themselves as a standard “startup.”
“A normal Silicon Valley startup is 10 years in the lab, come up with a better mousetrap and go to market. We’re completely the opposite,” Cameron Dales, president and chief industrial officer of Peak Energy, advised CNBC in a video interview Friday.
Peak Energy hopes to accomplice with a expertise firm (but to be chosen) that’s already an knowledgeable in battery expertise however doesn’t have the capability to scale manufacturing.
“In the battery market it turns out the rarest commodity is not the technology — there are many excellent ideas out there at academic labs and startups — but rather the ability to scale to manufacturing,” CEO Landon Mossburg advised CNBC. “The difficulty of manufacturing scale up is one of the reasons you see so many ‘breakthrough battery technology’ announcements but very very few companies who actually reach market.”
Peak Energy launched in June and is popping out of stealth on Wednesday, asserting a $10 million funding spherical lead by Greg Reichow at Eclipse, a Silicon Valley enterprise capital agency. Before becoming a member of Eclipse, Reichow labored at Tesla for greater than 5 years, the place he was answerable for battery, motor and electronics manufacturing after which led international manufacturing. Also becoming a member of the funding increase is TDK Ventures, the company enterprise capital arm of the Tokyo-headquartered multinational electronics firm TDK.
“The No. 1 issue we face as it relates to expanding renewable energy sources is storage,” Reichow advised CNBC. “This problem must be solved, but the existing approaches using lithium-ion and other technologies are not yet at a price point that enables the kind of scaling that society needs across sectors.”
Demand for grid-scale storage will proceed to develop. The United States Energy Information Administration has projected that battery storage capability will develop from 9 gigawatts in 2022 to 49 gigawatts in 2030 after which to 247 gigawatts in 2050. That’s a baseline projection that features the Inflation Reduction Act and assumes no extra adjustments in U.S. coverage all through the projection interval.
(L to R) Ryan Gibson, Eclipse Venture accomplice; Landon Mossburg, Peak Energy CEO; Aidan Madigan-Curtis, Eclipse accomplice and Cameron Dales, Peak Energy president and chief industrial officer, in protecting gear at a battery manufacturing unit clear room.
Photo courtesy Peak Energy
A stacked workforce with aggressive progress targets
Peak Energy continues to be in its very early days. There are about 10 staff and a business workplace in San Francisco.
But that headcount will triple in coming months, and Peak Energy goals to construct its first prototype battery methods, with particular person batteries sure collectively into bigger methods utilizing batteries sourced from a 3rd social gathering in 2024. By 2030, Peak says will probably be producing “double digit gigawatt” portions of battery cells for its personal battery methods and for different purposes.
That’s no small feat. It takes between $50 million and $100 million per gigawatt to construct a battery manufacturing unit, and a 30-gigawatt manufacturing unit would make use of between 2,000 and three,000 individuals and be between 1 and a couple of million sq. ft, Mossburg advised CNBC.
It’s an aggressive and costly buildout plan, however Mossburg has completed this type of speedy manufacturing scale up earlier than when he labored at Northvolt, a battery manufacturing firm that launched in 2016 in Sweden. Northvolt was based by Peter Carlsson, who was the worldwide head of sourcing and provide chain at Tesla from 2011 to 2015, and Mossburg joined 2017. After 18 months, Northvolt had 300 individuals, and grew to 4,000 individuals by the point Mossburg left 4 years later.
Cameron Dales and US Representative Rho Kana in 2021 on the Enovix battery manufacturing unit in Fremont, Calif.
Photo courtesy Cameron Dales
Of course, Peak Energy should increase more cash to fund this type of growth. Much more.
“We’re running a playbook which I and the rest of the executive team initially demonstrated and deployed at Northvolt,” Mossburg advised CNBC. Northvolt additionally began with a small seed spherical of funding and ended up elevating greater than $9 billion in a mixture of fairness and debt. Mossburg was concerned with securing all of that financing aside from the latest $1.2 billion introduced in August.
Dales has related expertise. He was an early worker and co-founder of the gear business Symyx Tools at materials sciences innovation firm, Symyx Technologies, which went public in 1999, and in 2009 joined the battery firm Enovix.
“I thought naively, ‘Well, how hard could batteries be? It’s just a plus and a minus, everybody has a Duracell. How hard could it be?’ Little did I know, 14 years later, I would still be there,” Dales advised CNBC. Enovix was making very excessive vitality density batteries at a battery manufacturing unit in Fremont, California, and is constructing one other one in Penang, Malaysia. The firm went public in a billion-dollar-plus SPAC deal in 2021.
“Peak Energy’s team comprises of two industry veteran leaders who have scaled a battery company before,” Anil Achyuta, who lead the funding for TDK Ventures, stated in a written assertion shared with CNBC.
So, too, for Eclipse.
“Landon and I worked together at Tesla and I know what he’s capable of delivering,” Reichow advised CNBC. “After leaving Tesla, he went on to build a battery company as an executive at Northvolt. Similarly, Cam was a core part of the founding team at Enovix and was instrumental in helping them build the business. These are proven executives that have built battery companies in some of the hardest spaces and that makes them unique.”
Why Peak Energy is specializing in sodium ion
Peak Energy is concentrated on making massive sodium-ion battery methods to pair with wind and photo voltaic vitality manufacturing services. Large grid-scale batteries can seize the vitality generated from renewable sources, then maintain that vitality and dispatch it later when the wind is not blowing or the solar is not shining.
Peak Energy will make particular person battery cells, concerning the dimension of a loaf of bread, says Dales. Then these loaf of bread battery cells get wired collectively to make modules, which might be concerning the dimension of a submitting cupboard. Then these submitting cupboards will probably be assembled right into a battery the scale of the again of a tractor trailer truck, then deployed close to a photo voltaic or wind farm, 50 to 100 at a time.
One hundred blocks can energy 62,500 properties for 4 hours, Mossburg advised CNBC.
An artist rendering of the Peak Energy battery system.
Rendering courtesy Peak Energy.
The most common battery expertise proper now’s lithium ion, utilized in cellphones and electrical autos, and they’re prized for his or her vitality density. Sodium-ion batteries are much less vitality dense and heavier — unhealthy for cellular gadgets or automobiles, however much less related relating to grid-scale batteries.
“Weight, and therefore energy density, is much less important in a stationary storage system. The fact that these batteries are less energy dense isn’t really a big consideration for this application,” Reichow advised CNBC.
What does matter if you find yourself speaking about storing big portions of vitality is the price.
“A much more important consideration is the cost per unit energy that you’re able to store and that is where sodium ion, we believe, will have a big advantage over lithium ion in the future,” Reichow advised CNBC.
It’s too early for Peak Energy to decide to a selected worth for its battery methods, however a Tesla Megapack battery system prices about $1.3 million with out set up, and Mossburg says he thinks Peak Energy will be at roughly half of that price with its system.
In addition, lithium-ion batteries is usually a hearth hazard and the electrical automobile makers are consuming up all out there provide, Dales advised CNBC. The downside utilities have is “the minute Ford or GM needs more batteries, basically their contracts for lithium ion just get canceled and the suppliers just go for the car, because it’s today the largest market,” Dales advised CNBC.
Also, China dominates the battery market and provide chains proper now. “They’re the dominant player in batteries generally — by far — they are massive in terms of battery production,” Mossburg advised CNBC. “And they’re positioning to do the same with sodium.”
Alun Thomas, Head of Manufacturing Engineering at Peak Energy, inside a battery manufacturing machine.
Photo courtesy Peak Energy
While Mossburg says he thinks it’s a profit for the world for the United States and China to proceed to commerce, and Peak Energy is prepared to work with Chinese companions, there are geopolitical dangers related to relying on China fully. Peak Energy’s plan to fabricate within the United States is a geopolitical benefit, he says. (It’s additionally extra climate-conscious to make these large batteries within the U.S. versus making them in China and delivery them to the U.S.)
“You don’t want to be in a situation where a critical component of the energy infrastructure of your entire economy, which batteries are increasingly becoming, is principally sourced from a party that you can’t be sure you’re going to be friends with,” Mossburg advised CNBC. “If the U.S. wants to continue to have a robust economy, especially an economy that can make things like cars or even like high-tech things, ceding an entire industry that’s this important to any other player — doesn’t matter if it’s China or anyone else — is a dangerous prospect.”
The first actual gigantic battery manufacturing unit on this planet was the Tesla/Panasonic Gigafactory in Nevada, and Reichow led the event of that, Dales stated. The second technology “arguably” was the factories that Mossburg constructed with Northvolt and that Dales helped construct at Enovix, Dales stated. Peak Energy is “taking that learning and the people who developed those factories and we are going after the third generation of factory design,” Dales advised CNBC.