INEXPENSIVE ENERGY STORAGE FOR A CLEANER GRID
Antora Energy is building a low-cost thermal battery for grid-scale energy storage. By combining inexpensive thermal storage media at high temperatures with high-efficiency thermophotovoltaic energy conversion, we will support the widespread integration of renewable resources on the electricity grid.
Justin Briggs and Andrew Ponec met at Stanford University, where their shared passion for energy and climate motivated them to cofound Antora Energy.
Briggs holds a B.S. in physics from UC Berkeley and a Ph.D. in applied physics from Stanford University. During his PhD, Briggs studied next-generation renewable energy technology, with a focus on thermophotovoltaic energy conversion. He built a thermo-optical characterization platform to study the optical properties of advanced thermophotovoltaic materials at temperatures over 1200°C, and grew and validated a novel material for selective thermal emission.
Ponec received his B.S. in energy systems engineering from Stanford University, where he did research on advanced photovoltaics and power electronics. Between his sophomore and junior year, Ponec took a leave of absence to found a solar energy company called Dragonfly Systems. Dragonfly developed and commercialized a novel power electronics topology for utility-scale solar power plants. SunPower acquired the startup in 2014. Ponec led his team through concept generation, prototyping, validation testing, and manufacturing, and eventually oversaw the installation of over 10 MW of solar power plants that used the technology.
Briggs and Ponec are committed to transforming our energy system to one that is sustainable, secure, and accessible. In 2017 they received an Innovation Transfer grant from Stanford’s TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy to support the development and commercialization of their energy storage technology.
Wind and solar are poised to meet the global need for clean, safe, inexpensive energy, but the intermittency of these resources poses a critical challenge: Excess electricity is curtailed when wind and solar production exceeds demand, while electricity reliability is threatened when production falls short of demand. Energy storage systems can address this challenge by smoothing out the power supply from renewables.
Today, grid-scale energy storage is dominated by pumped hydroelectric installations, which provide storage at low cost but are geographically limited. Lithium-ion batteries are improving quickly, but materials sourcing challenges, high cost floors, and short cycle life limit them to short-duration applications. Other technologies, including new types of electrochemical cells, compressed air, hydrogen, flywheels, and electromagnetics, suffer from geographic, safety, or cost limitations. In short, there is a critical need for cheap and scalable energy storage.
We are developing an extremely inexpensive thermal energy storage system. With a marginal cost of energy capacity of < $10/kWh, our thermal battery will take excess electricity from wind and solar power plants, store it for hours or days, and deliver it back to consumers when needed. By storing energy as heat in extremely inexpensive raw materials and converting that heat back to electricity with a high-efficiency thermophotovoltaic heat engine, our energy storage system costs are low enough to make intermittent renewable energy, plus storage, cost-competitive with fossil fuels.
Potential for Impact
Inexpensive energy storage will enable the widespread deployment of wind and solar energy, thus ensuring cheap, sustainable, and reliable electricity on a global scale while dramatically reducing carbon emissions.
Antora Energy is Looking for...
- Technical collaborators
- Joint development partners
- Techno-economic analysis
- Team members - scientist, engineers
- Team members - business, interns
antora [dot] energy [at] gmail [dot] com