expansion plans

Energy storage startup moves into larger Houston-area space, plans to grow team

Plus Power, which recently relocated its HQ to Houston, has moved into a larger office space. Image via cushmanwakefield.com

A Northern California-born energy storage startup has established its headquarters in The Woodlands.

Plus Power, which develops battery systems designed to store backup power for electric grids, recently signed a lease for nearly 7,000 square feet at Three Hughes Landing in The Woodlands. The company previously was based in coworking space at the Rayford Office Park in Spring.

The company, founded in 2018, shifted its headquarters from San Francisco to the Houston area last year.

“We chose The Woodlands for its beauty, and walkable access to great nearby hotels, restaurants, and healthy groceries,” says Brandon Keefe, CEO of Plus Power. “A Houston base reflects our deep focus on the Texas market, as we are investing nearly $1 billion in several projects here that will be online by the first quarter of 2024, with more in [the works] behind that.”

About 40 employees work from Plus Power’s new office in The Woodlands. Across North America, the company employs about 130 people, including several in Austin. As of July 10, the startup listed nine job openings.

Plus Power develops, owns, and operates utility-scale systems that store energy in huge lithium-ion batteries during low-demand periods. In times of peak demand, power providers can tap into this stored energy.

“Standalone energy storage is rapidly transforming the U.S. energy markets, because it is cheaper than new natural gas plants, faster to build than fossil peakers or transmission, and able to perform diverse energy services,” the company explains in its job postings.

Peakers are backup power plants that run on fossil fuels.

One of Plus Power’s storage facilities is the 100-megawatt Gambit project, which opened two years ago in Angleton. The nearly eight-acre facility supports power supplies for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which runs the power grid for 90 percent of Texas.

The company says the Angleton facility has fed backup energy to ERCOT during this year’s and last year’s heatwaves, as well as last December’s winter freeze.

The Gambit facility might ring a bell with some folks in the Houston area. In January 2022, Austin-based automaker Tesla unveiled a backup power storage facility in Angleton. Plus Power bought the project from Tesla in June 2022.

Plus Power’s development pipeline contains 10 gigawatts’ worth of energy storage projects in 28 states and Canada. That includes massive projects on tap for Hawaii and Arizona.

Last November, Plus Power announced it had secured $219 million in debt financing for construction of the 185-megawatt Kapolei project on a roughly eight-acre site in Oahu, Hawaii. The facility will be tied to Hawaiian Electric’s power grid. Mizuho Securities USA and KeyBank led the financing.

This April, Plus Power held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Sierra Estrella project in Tolleson, a Phoenix suburb. The 250-megawatt system will serve Salt River Project (SRP), a utility provider in the Phoenix area. The roughly 11-acre Tolleson facility is set to open next year, as is another Plus Power project for SRP — the 90-megawatt Superstition facility in Gilbert, another Phoenix suburb.

As its development pipeline demonstrates, Plus Power is firmly plugged into the fast-growing energy storage market.

According to the Houston-based energy research and consulting firm Wood Mackenzie and the American Clean Power Association, the U.S. energy storage market installed a record-breaking 4.8 gigawatts of capacity in 2022. This year, that number is projected to approach 75 gigawatts.

In a March 2023 news release, John Hensley, the clean power group’s vice president of research and analytics, says the U.S. market “is on a rapid growth curve and is already a key component of building a resilient grid that supports abundant clean energy.”

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A View From HETI

LiNova will use the funds to advance its polymer cathode battery technology. Photo via Getty Images

A California startup that's revolutionizing polymer cathode battery technology has announced its series A round of funding with support from Houston-based energy transition leaders.

LiNova Energy Inc. closed a $15.8 million series A round led by Catalus Capital. Saft, a subsidiary of TotalEnergies, which has its US HQ in Houston, and Houston-based Chevron Technology Ventures, also participated in the round with a coalition of other investors.

LiNova will use the funds with its polymer cathode battery to advance the energy storage landscape, according to the company. The company uses a high-energy polymer battery technology that is designed to allow material replacement of the traditional cathode that is made up of cobalt, nickel, and other materials.

The joint development agreement with Saft will have them collaborate to develop the battery technology for commercialization in Saft's key markets.

“We are proud to collaborate with LiNova in scaling up its technology, leveraging the extensive experience of Saft's research teams, our newest prototype lines, and our industrial expertise in battery cell production," Cedric Duclos, CEO of Saft, says in a news release.

CTV recently announced its $500 million Future Energy Fund III, which aims to lead on emerging mobility, energy decentralization, industrial decarbonization, and the growing circular economy. Chevron has promised to spend $10 billion on lower carbon energy investments and projects by 2028.

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