Flawed Storage is King

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. – Ancient proverb

I have just returned home from a two-week roadshow road trip with our Founder and CEO @Kent McCormick and our VP of Business Development @Adrian Reed. Kent presented at the Rice Alliance Science and Technology Venture Form at @Rice University and the RE+ 2022 Solar + Storage conference in Anaheim, California with @SEIA and @ESI. With further support from @Andrew Clark, we had about 80 meetings with potential partners, potential vendors, potential investors and other stakeholders of @Photon Vault and our grid-scale energy storage technology. A few things became clear to us in these meetings.

First, everyone in the #energyindustry is engaged with the #EnergyTransition. From #coal, to #oilandgas and #nuclear, and to #geothermal, #solar and #wind, everyone sees the simple facts that clear alternatives exist when people are making investments in energy and that increasingly, those decisions are favoring renewable sources of energy. Wind and solar in particular are now clearly the cheapest forms of energy – in many places exclusive of subsidies – and that economics more than policy will continue to drive the acceleration of their adoption. That is not to say that subsidies such as the Inflation Reduction Act will not add further velocity to that acceleration, only that there are many places in the world that have no such subsidies but have enough solar or wind resources that subsidies will not be necessary to drive continued adoption. Business models are changing and new narratives are emerging daily which acknowledge this reality.

Second, the single greatest impediment to this acceleration toward renewable energy adoption is the lack of affordable #energystorage options among the current technologies that can effectively back up power supplies at scale. Renewables have built their success not on a mass decision that we must have clean energy no matter what. Whatever climate activists would like to see, in reality, clean energy remains a middle-range priority for the vast majority of people, with economics almost always ranking higher in broad surveys. Policies in many countries over the past 20 years have largely acknowledged that fact, focusing on levers that helped bring renewables down the cost curve so that they could be more painlessly adopted. The same will be true for storage. Early-adopters and high value use cases have provided motivation for storage investments in recent years and some cost improvement has resulted. But not nearly enough and not at anything like the necessary speed.

Necessity is now driving the adoption of very expensive storage technologies in use cases that are poorly suited to their economics. In any “duck curve” market, where there is enough renewable penetration that certain times of day now see dramatic excesses of supply and others with dramatic shortfalls, system operators must find some source of storage, even if it is broadly uneconomic. In more than ten separate panels, presentations, and discussions in the #energystorage track at the RE+2022 conference, we heard no one talking about grid scale energy storage at anything like the current wholesale prices for baseload power in the United States.  Current technologies require too much capital expense and have too little #roundtripefficiency. A broad-based “green” solution that is twice or more the historic price of baseload power over the last 50+ years will never win this race.

These two conclusions are the underpinning for @Photon Vault – both our patented technology and our business case. @Photon Vault intends to be able to deliver 24-hour renewable baseload power with associated wind or solar for under $50/MWh with our 16hr long duration solution in our early target markets of Texas and California. The Photon Vault’s unique hybrid design of combining both electricity and heat as inputs to a thermal storage media succeeds where others have failed because it is motivated by the economic problem first and the science challenge second. We asked how to design a system that works in current electricity markets without subsidy, not how to design a technology that performs a task well so long as economics are not a primary judge of that success. The difference is important and is evident in our designs.

We believe that @Photon Vault will be the first technology to achieve mass adoption for 24hr renewable power. Not because our technology is exciting, but because our business case is. Come partner with us to build the future!

John Langhus VP, Legal & Communication