Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has invested in the energy storage start-up Antora, in order to help heavy industries such as steel and plastic, go green.
According to a report in US news channel CNBC, Gates has researched the issue extensively. In his 2021 book, “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster,” Gates wrote that the process of making products such as steel and plastic is the single biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, as a result of the high-temperature heat needed for industrial processes typically comes from natural gas.
Gates, through investing arm Breakthrough Energy Ventures, is now backing a start-up that’s at the very early stages of addressing the problem through technology.
Founded in 2018, Antora Energy takes zero emissions energy from renewable energy sources, like wind and solar farms, and converts that to heat, which it stores in solid carbon blocks that are insulated in a thermal battery. From there, the stored energy is used as heat in industrial processes needed to make materials like steel.
In its efforts to reach its ambitious goals, Antora has announced that it raised $50 million in a financing round led by Breakthrough and Chris Sacca’s Lowercarbon Capital. Energy giant Shell’s venture arm also contributed to the deal.
The Antora thermal battery is meant to replace a natural gas boiler and will be similar in size to a small house or a large truck trailer. If Antora is successful, it will be selling to large industrial companies, providing a zero-emissions alternative at a lower price.
“The oil and gas industry can deny climate change all they want, but buyers will always choose the lower price option, and that means lights out for fossil fuels.”Chris Sacca, founder of Lowercase Capital, Lowercarbon Capital
“Antora makes heat and electricity from solar at prices cheaper than burning gas,” Sacca stated. “The oil and gas industry can deny climate change all they want, but buyers will always choose the lower price option, and that means lights out for fossil fuels.”
For now, Antora is still a lab project. CEO Andrew Ponec said he doesn’t expect deployments to begin until late 2023.
“It wouldn’t make sense to do what we’re doing if you didn’t have that massive shift in the energy landscape over the last few years.”Andrew Ponec, CEO of Antora
“It’s only in the last few years that you’ve had wind and solar get cheap enough that you may be able to compete directly with fossil fuels for something like industrial heat,” Ponec said in an interview. “It wouldn’t make sense to do what we’re doing if you didn’t have that massive shift in the energy landscape over the last few years.”