US cleantech innovator LightSail Energy nets $37m VC round


US energy storage innovator LightSail Energy has secured $37.3m in its Series D funding round.

Financing was led by high profile Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel and also include Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Khosla Ventures, which incubated the company and led earlier rounds, Innovacorp and several other venture capital firms also participated.

“For far too long, the clean tech industry has been driven by politicians and ideologues who trade people’s taxes for dreams,” said 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.”

Founded in 2009, LightSail is looking to utilise thermodynamics to create a compressed air energy storage solution. The company aims to produce commercially-viable solutions for storage at the utility-scale.

Steve Crane, co-founder and CEO of LightSail Energy, said, “This investment round will enable LightSail to bring its first grid-scale energy storage products to market. 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 more than a century. We want to democratise energy – to enable renewable sources to supply energy on demand locally and at a lower cost than centralised fossil-fuel based generation.”

Vinod Khosla, founding partner of Khosla Ventures, added, “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 and make renewable energy practical and mainstream for the first time.”

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