Thermal Battery Solar Technology Soon to Rapidly Deliver On-site Power Generation for Data Centers

April 26, 2024
Exowatt has announced a new type of self-contained solar power generation, set to be available at scale later this year.

With $20 million in seed money from venture backers such as Andreesson Horowitz and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, energy start-up Exowatt announced that its self-contained solar thermal and power product would be available this year to its customers.

Taking a different approach than the traditional solar panel which does a direct conversion of solar energy into electricity, the Exowatt P3 system will store its energy in a thermal battery.

Thermal Battery Benefits

In brief, a thermal battery is a high-temperature power source that stores energy as heat.

Most importantly, it does not require preparation to use as an energy source -- and has little to no startup time to begin supplying power.

Per Exowatt, their implementation will be able to store energy for up to 24 hours, and their entire 3-in-1 modular system will fit in a standard 40-foot shipping container.

Unlike traditional sources, the energy is stored as heat, not electricity, and will generate electricity on demand.

How Does It Work?

Each modular container contains three components: 

  • First, a heat collector to capture solar energy.
  • Second, a heat battery, that stores the collected heat for its energy potential.
  • And third, the Exowatt heat engine, which will convert the heat in storage into dispatchable power. 

Because the energy potential is stored as heat and not electricity, the storage costs are minimal compared to current battery architectures.

The system also has no reliance on rare-earth elements, a concern with high-tech battery implementations.

According to Jack Abraham, CEO of Atomic and Co-Founder of Exowatt:

“Our mission is to provide extremely low-cost energy that advances the capabilities of global AI infrastructure while protecting our planet.”

On that mission, Exowatt is directly addressing the massive energy requirements of AI training and inference currently facing the data center industry.

The Cheapest Renewable Energy Solution?

With the Exowatt system's 24-hour heat storage capability, power can be delivered regardless of time of day or weather.

The company claims that once they are delivering power at scale, they should be able to generate electricity for as little as 1 cent per kWh ($0.01) -- or possibly even less -- making it potentially the cheapest renewable energy solution.

 

Already Time to Get In Line

Data centers are apparently lining up to get on this new power generation gold rush, with Exowatt claiming in their announcement this week that along with planned deployments in 2024, they have a backlog of 500 MW of power for data centers in the United States already booked.

According to Exowatt CEO and Co-Founder Hannan Parvizian:

"Exowatt's modular system can be deployed rapidly and cost-effectively – and it's available this year." 

 

 

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About the Author

David Chernicoff

David Chernicoff is an experienced technologist and editorial content creator with the ability to see the connections between technology and business while figuring out how to get the most from both and to explain the needs of business to IT and IT to business.

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