REDWOOD CITY – AutoGrid Systems Inc, a Virtual Power Plant provider, announced an $85 million new round of funding to accelerate energy transition through adoption of electric vehicles, battery storage and renewables generation. SE Ventures, a $500 million fund established by Schneider Electric led the Series D-2 round. Other major funding came from new investors, which included Moore Strategic Ventures, SolarEdge Technologies, Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund, and GS Futures. Additional investors contributing are: National Grid Partners, Shell Ventures, and Total Carbon Neutrality Ventures.
“From the day we were founded, we have been obsessed with making our energy systems smarter in our quest to decarbonize our society”, said Dr. Amit Narayan, AutoGrid founder and CEO. “This funding will accelerate our vision of making AI-powered Virtual Power Plants accessible to everyone as a key tool in catalyzing the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”
The funding reinforces AutoGrid’s leadership in acting as a catalyst to accelerate transition to new energy and combat climate change due to human activities. Funding will be used for general corporate purposes to advance global brand expansion and implementation of the technology roadmap. A portion of the funding is also set to be used to purchase equity back from certain existing shareholders.
“In order to successfully reduce our carbon footprint we need to face the harsh reality of our existing infrastructure,” said James McIntyre, senior managing director and COO of Moore Strategic Ventures. “By enabling the complex interplay between utilities, renewable sources of energy, and end consumers, AutoGrid will allow for the rapid adoption of green technologies such as electric vehicles and rooftop solar.”
Founded in 2010, AutoGrid has pioneered the science of flexibility management which turns the traditional centralized fossil fuel-dependent energy system inside out, giving power back to consumers in their ability to fight climate change by facilitating faster deployment of renewable energy, batteries and electric vehicles.
Lisa Lambert, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at National Grid and president and founder of National Grid Partners, added: “AutoGrid has proven its ability to deploy new capabilities at a global scale. We invested because they have one of the best utility-focused AI teams in Silicon Valley and a broad platform to help utilities enable a smarter energy future.”
AutoGrid’s technology plays a direct role in combating climate change. To smooth out sudden fluctuations in demand and renewable supply due to weather changes, grid operators rely on fossil fuel-burning “peaker” power plants. As an example, in the state of California, there are approximately 17 gigawatts of fossil fuel-burning “peaker” power plants, which are used for less than 15 percent of the total hours available during the year. Globally, these peaker plants represent a $1.2 trillion dollar investment. Unfortunately, due to low utilization, these peaker plants are not only significantly more expensive than average ‘baseload’ fossil-fuel generators, they also emit much higher rates of carbon dioxide and health-harming air pollutants. Many of these plants serve load pockets in dense urban areas, including more than twenty facilities in California alone which have more than 100,000 people living within a three-mile radius of the plant. Furthermore, half of the state’s peaker plants are located in disadvantaged communities and disproportionately burden socioeconomically vulnerable census tracts.
AutoGrid’s AI-powered Virtual Power Plant Platform technology enables immediate climate action by offering a sustainable, resilient and cost-effective alternative to legacy peaker plants. The AutoGrid Flex platform utilizes the spare capacity from batteries, electric vehicles and flexible load to smooth out short-term imbalances in demand and supply while providing economic incentives to the asset owner. Unlike traditional centralized peaker plants which can be disrupted during extreme weather events such as hurricanes, snow storms, fires, or earthquakes, the VPPs consisting of distributed batteries, microgrids and electric vehicles are inherently more resilient and continue to function even in extreme weather conditions.
“Over the last decade, AutoGrid has shown that distributed energy resources can provide the flexibility and efficiency needed for a more resilient and decarbonized grid,” said Brandon Middaugh, director, Climate Innovation Fund at Microsoft. “Our investment in AutoGrid is an opportunity to scale this innovation globally to help create a more livable planet for everyone.”
The new funding will be used to expand AutoGrid Flex platform’s capabilities and accelerate deployment at a global scale. AutoGrid will complement its investment in technology platform to build out a world-class services organization to offer a “one-stop-shop” for the optimization and monetization of energy assets for independent power producers, energy-as-a-service companies, electricity retailers and new energy project developers. To this end, AutoGrid has established a 24×7 Networks Operation Center and plans to offer full market participation services in all the major ISOs across the United States in preparation for the impending changes related to FERC Order 2222 which allows direct participation of distributed energy resources into wholesale energy markets.