In its latest bet on alternatives to fossil fuels, Koch Strategic Platforms LLC, an investment affiliate of Koch Industries Inc., will make a $100 million investment, in convertible senior notes, into aspiring long-duration energy storage supplier Eos Energy Enterprises Inc., the Edison, N.J.-based battery startup announced July 7.
Eos, which listed on the Nasdaq in November 2020 through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company, plans to use the investment to accelerate the commercialization of its zinc-based technology, touted as safer, cleaner and longer-lasting than lithium-ion batteries.
"As we continue to build out our commercial team, expand our opportunity pipeline and optimize our manufacturing processes and technology, it will be extremely helpful to have an experienced and proven strategic partner that recognizes the tremendous market opportunity we have ahead of us," Eos CEO Joe Mastrangelo said in a statement.
With its manufacturing facility in Pittsburgh, Eos plans to roll out batteries capable of up to 12 hours of energy storage, three times longer than most of the conventional lithium-ion storage projects moving rapidly into operation. As variable renewable energy resources expand their share of the U.S. power mix, utilities, grid operators and energy regulators view longer-duration storage as increasingly necessary to balance the grid.
A study earlier this year from the U.S. Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, for instance, identified more than 100 GW of potential for resources providing between four and 12 hours of storage, though the success of lithium-ion battery alternatives in seizing a significant share of that will depend on cost reduction, manufacturing scale-up and other factors.
Koch Strategic Platforms believes that the timing is right for Eos and has "great confidence" that the company has what it takes to succeed, according to Jeremy Bezdek, managing director of the Koch investment arm. "Long-duration energy storage is quickly emerging as a critical component of the renewable energy value chain," Bezdek said.
Led by billionaire CEO Charles Koch, Koch Industries is heavily invested in fossil fuels and has been criticized and sued for downplaying the impacts of climate change. But this year, Koch Strategic Platforms has invested in several companies at the cutting edge of the accelerating energy transition away from oil, natural gas and coal.
In late June, the company invested an undisclosed amount of equity in Calgary, Alberta-based Lithion Power Group Ltd., a lithium-ion battery upstart. That followed Koch's investment in February into electric vehicle charging company EVBox BV.