Energy storage technology developer LightSail Energy has raised $37.3 million in a Series D round, which will enable the company to bring its first products to market.
The company's breakthrough technology is based on compressed air and has the potential to "democratize energy - to enable renewable energy sources to supply energy on demand locally and at a lower cost than centralized fossil-fuel based generation," they say.
Its megawatt-scale energy storage products are based on the "most humble, but most available and lowest-cost material - air," they say. The technology converts electrical energy to compressed air, and then reverses the process to deliver electrical energy again when it's needed, all while keeping losses to a minimum.
San Francisco investor Peter Thiel led the round. Khosla Ventures, which incubated the company and led LightSail's earlier rounds, also participated, along with Bill Gates, Innovacorp, and others.
"The power grid needs cheap, reliable energy storage, but every single solution to date has been only incremental. LightSail takes a completely different approach that's based on fundamental thermodynamics. They have the potential to totally disrupt the electricity industry's assumptions with reliable grid-scale storage at a fraction of the cost of today's battery technology. When deployed, LightSail's technology would reduce the need for transmission line investment, peak power plants, and make renewable energy practical and mainstream for the first time," says Vinod Khosla.
Founded in 2009, LightSail Energy applies thermodynamics (the science of heat transfer and utilization) to solve the problems of today's electrical grid. The lack of economical energy storage at megawatt scale has limited the penetration of renewable energy generation, such as wind and solar, in many parts of the world and has limited grid transmission capacity. LightSail's technology makes power available when it's needed, not just when it's available. LightSail also helps to manage the increasing demand for peak power, making the entire grid more reliable and more practical for erratic renewable sources of energy.
Danielle Fong, LightSail's co-founder and Chief Scientist has been honored by Forbes Magazine as one of 30 "under 30" energy innovators.