Mar 27, 2019

Oil giant Equinor signals interest in battery tech with latest investment

Ben Geman, author of Generate

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Equinor, the Norwegian oil-and-gas behemoth, is among two new investors in Volta Energy Technologies, a consortium that provides venture financing to startups seeking breakthroughs in battery technology.

Why it matters: The investment is a major sign of how the world's biggest oil companies are diversifying into low-carbon vehicle and grid tech, even though it remains a small part of their portfolios.

It also signals a major expansion for Volta, which launched in late 2017 and has an agreement with Argonne National Laboratory to help validate promising tech using private funds.

  • It has invested in four startups so far, including Ionic Materials, which is trying to commercialize solid-state batteries, and Conamix, which is developing a system to produce high-energy batteries with electrodes that don't rely on cobalt.

Where it stands: Equinor and the big Korean auto supplier Hanon Systems have both made a 5-year commitment, according to Volta.

  • They join existing Volta backers, which include the utility giant Exelon and the lithium supplier Albemarle, and bring the total funding to $180 million, a spokesperson said.

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