Analyst Report: Upgrade for access Qnetic Wants to Replace Lithium Batteries for Green Energy Storage

Qnetic is developing a large flywheel storage system for renewable energy. But its product is still in the early stages of development.

Company: Qnetic
Security Type: SAFE
Valuation: $15,000,000
Min Investment: $200
Platform: Wefunder
Deadline: Jun 30, 2023
Léa Bouhelier-Gautreau - February 23rd, 2023

A Peak to Overcome

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to advise the CEO of Valley Clean Energy (VCE), a California-based renewable energy company, while attending an energy immersion class at the University of California, Davis. This small business produces energy through renewables, mostly wind and solar, to power Yolo County. And it faces the same problem other businesses producing renewables face – the sun only shines during the day, and the onshore wind mostly blows when the sun is up. As a result, when people come back from work in the evening, turning on heaters and TVs, electricity demand is at its highest — but production is going down. 

I told this CEO about the solutions available to balance the electricity supply and demand. With dynamic prices, he could incentivize the use of electricity during daylight and outside of peak hours, but the drop in consumption would be limited. Using offshore wind — which mostly blows at night — could also be a solution, but it would not produce enough electricity to cover Yolo County’s needs. He could use natural gas plants to produce electricity, but this contributes to climate change and works against the United States carbon neutrality goal. But if the CEO wanted to meet this goal while providing inhabitants with constant and low-carbon energy, the only solution left is energy storage.

The most common source of energy storage is lithium-ion batteries. They are the cheapest solution available for renewable energy farms, and they store electricity instantaneously. But they have some major drawbacks.

Lithium mining isn’t green, which sort of defeats the purpose of using lithium batteries for renewable energy. Every ton of lithium mined releases as much as 15 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And lithium batteries can’t provide the kind of storage that renewables really need. They can hold only about four to six hours of energy, which is nowhere near enough to power the grid. And lithium-ion batteries designed to last longer would be too expensive to be practical. 

Lithium batteries also have a short lifespan. After 2,000 charge cycles — usually around five years — their storage capacity falls below 80%, so most renewable energy farms need to replace them regularly. This increases their cost over time and multiplies their environmental impact. And lithium batteries are very hard to recycle and release toxic chemicals when they sit in landfills. From start to finish, lithium batteries are far from an ideal solution.

For all of these reasons, I would have loved to suggest an energy storage solution other than lithium to VCE’s CEO. There are existing solutions that actually have a lower environmental impact and a longer lifespan. But none are competitive in terms of price. This is the problem that Qnetic is trying to solve — providing affordable and sustainable energy storage that can power cities from evening peak hours to the next sunrise.

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