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Energy Dome gets $44M uplift into its CO2 battery for renewable energy storage

Italian climate startup Energy Dome, which has developed a "CO2 Battery" for storing renewable energy, has closed a €40 million (~$44 million) Series B round -- bringing the total raised for its novel energy storage solution to €54 million (or just shy of $60 million).

The round was co-led by Eni Next, the corporate VC arm of Italian energy giant Eni; along with Neva SGR, the VC company owned by European banking group Intesa Sanpaolo. Existing investors also participated, including Barclays' Sustainable Impact Capital, CDP Venture Capital, Invitalia, Novum Capital Partners and 360 Capital. Other investors in the round include Japan Energy Fund and Elemental Excelerator.

We last covered the 2020-founded startup when it closed an $11 million Series A back in 2021 -- explaining that its system uses CO2 in a closed-loop cycle to store energy generated from renewable sources (such as solar).

Storage is important for renewables as major clean sources of energy generation like solar and wind power are variable, since the sun doesn't always shine nor the wind always blow. This means, not that renewables are useless (as some right-wing politicians have tried to claim) but that decarbonizing the electricity grid using these alternative (green) sources of power requires innovation in storage tech -- which is where Energy Dome is aiming to step in with its CO2 Battery.

Its system works by changing the chemical compound, CO2, from gas to liquid and back to gas (via compression and/or evaporation) in order to generate heat -- which is either stored or used to drive a generator depending on whether the system is in charging or discharging mode.

The startup is named for an inflatable atmospheric gas holder filled with CO2 (when in its gaseous form) which forms a core component of the storage system. Other key 'ingredients' for its battery are steel and water and Energy Dome touts the robustness of the system as a major differentiator vs alternative storage solutions, claiming no degradation over 30 years of operation.

It also claims the CO2 Battery can store renewable energy with "75% RTE (AC-AC, MV-MV)" -- meaning that for each unit of renewable energy stored the system is able to return 75% for later usage -- doing so at a cost that it says is half the price of lithium batteries. (And mining for lithium raises environmental concerns in and of itself.)

Back in 2021 the startup was aiming to use the Series A funds to commercialize the tech. It's made some progress on this front -- saying it's working with "several" utilities, independent power producers and corporate customers in key markets at this stage, per a press release, touting what it describes as "a qualified pipeline that exceeds 9GWh" in markets such as the U.S., Europe, South America, India and Australia.

The Series B funds will be used to enter what Energy Dome dubs "full commercial scaling mode on a global basis" -- although it says it's focusing on a set of key markets, with the US being principal among them (with an eye on tax incentives for green energy).

"Our CO2 Battery is ready for the market and, after closing the Series B round, we are ready to guarantee its performance to any customer that is real about getting rid of fossil fuels and substituting with dispatchable renewable energies," noted founder and CEO Claudio Spadacini in a statement.

The startup added that it expects to have two standard 20MW-200MWh frames commercially operational by the end of 2024 -- noting that the first unit already in the process of being manufactured.

Its focus now is on keeping up early momentum, having gone from starting operations to commercial-scale deployment in just three years, it also said.

"The use of proceeds of the round will serve to provide financial guarantees to customers as a demonstration that this team is ready to put their 'skin in the game' alongside their customers in deploying the CO2 Battery," it added. "The investment will also support Energy Dome’s business expansion in the U.S. in order to leverage at maximum from the opportunities deriving from the Inflation Reduction Act and the associated Investment Tax Credits available for utility-scale energy storage."