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Storage Key to ‘Round-the-Clock Solar,’ Idealab’s CEO Gross Says

Jan. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Storing solar- and wind-generated energy may prove nearly as important as creating it, according to the chairman and chief executive officer of Idealab, a technology venture-capital firm.

“If you ever want to have round-the-clock solar, which the whole world does want to have, you have to have storage,” Bill Gross, who founded Idealab in 1996, said in a telephone interview before traveling to Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum. “Anything that can make it so that we have more on-demand power, especially with renewables, is going to be a big factor.”

About one-third of the companies in Pasadena, California-based Idealab’s portfolio are linked to clean power, including the energy-storage startup Energy Cache, Gross said.

Energy Cache is developing a “gravity-based storage system, like pumped hydro,” that uses clean energy to move materials or water uphill to be released later to generate energy, Aaron Fyke, president of Energy Cache, said in an e-mail. “There is a tremendous need for low-cost, grid-scale energy storage,” Fyke said.

A slideshow describing Energy Cache’s proposal was posted in November on thegatesnotes.com, along with a comment from Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates.

“Storage is a critical problem if we’re going to expand the use of solar and wind power,” Gates wrote.

To contact the reporter on this story: Justin Doom in New York at jdoom1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net

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