David Hamilton, director of programs for economic development at Stony...

David Hamilton, director of programs for economic development at Stony Brook University, addresses the audience at Long Island Capital Alliance meeting on Friday. Credit: Dawn McCormick

Alternative-energy startup companies offering visions of a "gravity battery" and modular hydropower systems pitched investors at a recent meeting of the Long Island Capital Alliance.

One of the companies, Terrament, aims to solve the problem of large-scale energy storage by  drilling mile-deep shafts. Inside the shafts would be heavy modules that would produce power through regenerative braking as they descend. The modules would be lifted with cheap power during off-peak hours when demand is low.

As the electric grid shifts from fossil fuels to greener, but more intermittent, sources like wind and solar, the need for energy storage becomes more acute.

"We need to increase energy storage five times by 2050," said Terrament founder Eric Chaves at the meeting Friday. "The total addressable market globally is $1.2 trillion by 2050."

Nearly all energy storage projects in operation rely on pumping and releasing water between reservoirs at different elevations.

Chaves said Terrament's model could work more efficiently than hydro storage and other methods such as compressed air. 

The Brooklyn company, which is going through Stony Brook University's Clean Energy Business Incubator program, is seeking an initial funding round of $1 million.

 Another energy company, Boston-based GenH, also is working at the Stony Brook incubator. 

GenH is developing prefabricated, modular hydroelectric generating units that can be installed at small dams and canals that currently generate no power, said co-founder Siddharth Pannir.

The "adaptive hydro" installations would take about three months to deploy, he said. The company's business model calls for the sale of electricity to utilities, with the dam's owner receiving a slice of the revenue.

Pilot projects are underway in California and New England, Pannir said.

The Long Island Capital Alliance, which has multiple private sponsors, brings together angel, venture capital and private equity investors with startups. On Nov. 11, LICA is scheduled to host an event for cannabis startups.

In a keynote address at the event in Melville, David Hamilton, director of programs for economic development at Stony Brook University, said that Long Island's reputation in sustainable energy will hinge on offshore wind projects.

"We're either going to be a success or a failure," he said.

Other companies presenting at the event included:

  • KidNation, an "edutainment" platform aimed at children and founded by rapper and father Chris "Ludacris" Bridges. The company uses videos and music to deliver lessons such as one imploring kids to wash their hands and brush their teeth.
  • PumpML, a startup that is seeking to sellto/ makers of security cameras and other devices technology that will recognize non-voice sounds such as breaking glass and gun shots.
  • Next Generation Quantum, which is working to develop networks to connect ultrafast quantum computers inside data centers or tech companies.

Latest Videos