LightSail Energy Raises $37.3 Million From Peter Thiel, Khosla Ventures, Bill Gates, Innovacorp and Other Top Investors
Low-Cost Energy Storage Leader to Unlock Potential of the Electric Grid to Meet Growing Global DemandBerkeley, California – November 5, 2012 –
LightSail Energy, a developer of breakthrough energy storage technology, announced today that it has raised $37.3 million in Series D funding led by San Francisco investor Peter Thiel. Khosla Ventures, which incubated the company and led LightSail’s earlier rounds, Bill Gates, Innovacorp, and several other investors also participated in the round.
Founded in 2009, LightSail Energy is applying 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.
“This investment round will enable LightSail to bring its first grid-scale energy storage products to market,” said Steve Crane, co-founder and CEO of LightSail Energy. “We’ve proven that our transformative thermodynamics technology works at scale. With the support of a truly extraordinary group of investors, LightSail is well positioned to tackle, once and for all, a problem that’s bedeviled the electrical industry for a more than a century. We want to democratize energy – to enable renewable sources to supply energy on demand locally and at a lower cost than centralized fossil-fuel based generation.”
“The power grid needs cheap, reliable energy storage, but every single solution to date has been only incremental. Danielle Fong, Steve Crane, Ed Berlin and the rest of the LightSail team are taking 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, peaker power plants, and make renewable energy practical and mainstream for the first time,” said Vinod Khosla, founding partner of Khosla Ventures.
“For far too long, the clean tech industry has been driven by politicians and ideologues who trade people’s taxes for dreams,” said Peter Thiel. “But hype is not a sustainable energy source. While authentic energy breakthroughs are needed to overcome geological constraints, fraudulent companies have driven out the good. It’s time to find honest companies that can develop technologies that stand on real innovation instead of the backs of taxpayers. LightSail is run by engineers, not salespeople, and it promises to be one of the first true alternative energy storage companies.”
About LIGHTSAIL ENERGY
Danielle Fong’s scientific advances and entrepreneurial talent as LightSail’s co-founder and Chief Scientist have already been widely recognized. She was one of Forbes Magazine’s 30 Under 30 energy innovators and the youngest of this year’s Technology Review 35, among many other honors. As a graduate student at Princeton University, she realized that it’s possible to solve the cost and efficiency problems that have prevented widespread adoption of energy storage with the most humble, but most available and lowest-cost of materials – air. LightSail’s technology is able to convert electrical energy to compressed air, and then reverse the process to deliver electrical energy again when it’s needed, all the while keeping losses to a minimum. To learn more about LightSail Energy, visit www.lightsail.com.
About KHOSLA VENTURES
Khosla Ventures offers venture assistance, strategic advice and capital to entrepreneurs. The firm helps entrepreneurs extend the potential of their ideas for breakthrough technologies in clean energy, mobile, IT, cloud, big data, storage, health, food, agriculture and semiconductors. Vinod Khosla founded the firm in 2004 and was formerly a General Partner at Kleiner Perkins and co-founder of Sun Microsystems. Khosla Ventures is based in Menlo Park, Calif. More information is available at www.khoslaventures.com.
Based in Halifax, Innovacorp is Nova Scotia’s early-stage venture capital organization. Target industries include information technology, clean technology and life sciences. Early-stage investment is at the core of Innovacorp’s business model, but the organization also provides hands-on business advisory services, tailored to meet the unique – and evolving – needs of each of the promising technology companies in its portfolio. It also gives entrepreneurs access to world-class incubation facilities and an international network of expert advisors. More information is available at www.innovacorp.ca.