Antora Energy has raised $50 million to decarbonise heavy industry in a round co-led by Bill Gates's Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) and Chris Sacca’s Lowercarbon Capital. Antora’s innovative thermal energy storage system captures inexpensive renewable electricity, storing it as high-temperature heat for use in heavy industry. Lead investors BEV and Lowercarbon Capital were joined by Shell Ventures, BHP Ventures, Grok Ventures, Trust Ventures, Overture VC, Impact Science Ventures and existing investor Fifty Years VC.

Antora’s backers are betting the technology is a scalable solution that delivers zero emissions heat and electricity to heavy industry that is as reliable as fossil fuels and price competitive. Heavy industry accounts for some 20 to 30 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Antora says it is electrifying heavy industry by providing storage for clean heat and power, making it possible to transition to renewables even in energy intensive industrial processes.

Antora’s technology acts “just like a toaster,” according to Andrew Ponec, CEO of Antora Energy. Antora’s thermal energy storage system is a solution for heavy industry, capturing electricity from price competitive renewable sources and storing it as high-temperature heat. The thermal energy is available for direct use as process heat up to 1500°C or alternatively can be converted back into electricity.

Antora believes this is a widely adoptable solution for heavy industry to join the clean energy transition. Speaking with CNBC, Antora said deployments are unlikely to begin until late 2023. Andrew Ponec, CEO said the technology wouldn't be viable without significant wind and solar investments bringing the price point down to compete directly with fossil fuels in the industrial space.

Image credit: Antora Energy

Antora Energy was founded in 2018 with support from the US Department of Energy, California Energy Commission, National Science Foundation, Activate Fellowship and private investors. February’s announcement marks Antora’s first funding round in two years, according to Pitchbook. The Series A will be used to accelerate hiring and project timelines.

Andrew Ponec, CEO of Antora Energy:

The manufacturing sector - including notoriously hard-to-decarbonize industries like cement, steel, and petrochemicals - accounts for a staggering 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Today, there aren’t scalable solutions to clean up the major drivers of these emissions - heat and power from combusting coal and gas. Partnering with Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Lowercarbon Capital, and our strong syndicate of other investors brings the resources and know-how to scale up our business and wipe out billions of tons of CO2 emissions per year.”

Carmichael Roberts, Business Lead at Breakthrough Energy Ventures:

“Clean energy storage for industrial heat and power will be a key enabler of tomorrow’s zero carbon world. Antora Energy will have a major impact on lowering carbon emissions stemming from the manufacturing industry.”

Chris Sacca, Chairman at Lowercarbon Capital:

“Antora makes heat and electricity from solar panels cheaper than burning gas. That’s lights out for fossil fuels.”

FYI/Bill Gates's Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) invests in net-zero innovators. BEV has more than $2 billion of ‘patient risk-tolerant capital’ committed to the energy transition and bringing clean energy to market, from the built environment to agtech, mobility and manufacturing. BEV’s first fund was launched as part of Breakthrough Energy’s network, which includes investment funds, nonprofit programmes and policy efforts ‘linked by a shared commitment to scale the technologies needed to address climate change and achieve a path to net zero emissions by 2050.’

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