Wednesday 17 Apr 2024
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(Feb 22): Thermal battery maker Antora Energy on Thursday said it has raised US$150 million in a funding round led by a tie-up between the world's biggest asset manager BlackRock and Singapore state investment firm Temasek.

The BlackRock-Temasek partnership, called, Decarbonization Partners, led an investor group including Emerson Collective, GS Futures, The Nature Conservancy, Lowercarbon Capital, Breakthrough Energy Ventures and top global miner BHP's venture capital unit.

The fresh financing for the startup will underpin an increase in production of its batteries, blocks of solid carbon heated with renewable energy.

Energy from those batteries could be used in industrial processes that use heat to melt and change raw ingredients, in sectors from chemicals to concrete.

Antora or its customer would buy renewable energy at times of the day when prices are lowest to heat up the batteries to as high as 2,400 degrees Celsius (4,352 degrees Fahrenheit). Customers could draw on that heat throughout the day, potentially decarbonizing areas of the economy seen as particularly wedded to fossil fuel use.

The thermal battery combined with cheap renewable energy marks "the first opportunity for decarbonizing industrial emissions in a way that's cost competitive with fossil fuels," Antora co-founder and CEO Andrew Ponec said in an interview.

The heat can also be turned into electricity through California-based Antora's thermophotovoltaic technology.

Another California startup, Rondo Energy, similarly uses bricks to store heat for later use and has raised US$85 million so far, according to PitchBook.

Antora's raise would place it as the sixth-biggest Series B climate technology funding round of 2023, data from PitchBook showed, and takes the company's total funding since its Series A in 2022 to US$230 million. Series A and B are the first and second major private fundraisings by a startup.

The median raise of a climate tech Series B in 2023 fell slightly to US$28 million, against a backdrop of a fall in the number of venture capital climate tech deals of any size, and their cumulative deal value, by around a quarter.

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