What does government funding mean to a small clean energy startup? In the case of many ARPA-E awardees and small businesses across the country, it means being able to secure the private capital necessary to bring their innovations to life.
Just ask David Marcus, founder of General Compression, a Massachusetts company founded in 2006 that received a $750,000 award from ARPA-E to develop a technology that has the ability to store renewable energy for use at any location on the electric grid. “Investors were interested in the company but hesitant about funding us further.”
His colleague Eric Ingersoll, CEO of General Compression, agrees.
“Having had an outside agency decide to fund us, develop their own analysis of what the key risks were, and then work with us to verify the accomplishment of those milestones and then pronounce that we had in fact successfully completed that project gave outside investors a huge degree of confidence in our technology.”
But after successfully completing the technology -- the first project completed out of any ARPA-E program -- General Compression has expanded to 60 employees and partnered with leading energy company ConocoPhillips on a full-scale demonstration facility in Texas.
General Compression’s advanced air compression process is able to store and release more than a week’s worth of the energy generated by wind turbines. Flexible, large-scale storage like this is the first step toward creating a stronger and more robust electric grid by enabling renewables to contribute to reliable power generation.
Investments like these are helping secure our clean energy future by allowing us to out-innovate our global competitors and create new clean energy jobs across the country.