Bill Gates-backed wind startup AirLoom is raising $12 million, filings show

It started with a drawing on a napkin. Now, AirLoom energy is raising $12.7 million in new funding, JS has learned.

The financing came from 21 investors, according to a regulatory filing it does not contain the names of the donors. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Wyoming-based startup has a new approach to wind energy. Instead of placing enormous turbines atop towers more than 100 meters high, vertical blades are attached to cables that run along an oval-shaped track just 25 meters above the ground. The company hopes to produce electricity for $13 per megawatt hour, which would be more than 50% cheaper than traditional onshore wind power.

The idea for the race track configuration was inspired by kiteboarding, the hobby of founder Robert Lumley. He first sketched the concept on a napkin during a wind energy conference in Berlin.

Much of the expected cost savings comes from AirLoom's lower profile. Today's wind turbines become more efficient as they get larger, but the enormous towers and blades are difficult to transport and sometimes require transport up to a year of advance planning. AirLoom's parts are smaller, making them easier to fabricate, move and assemble on site.

AirLoom last raised a $4 million seed round in November from Bill Gates-founded Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Lowercarbon Capital and MCJ Collective. At the same time, it also appointed a new CEO, Neal Rickner, who was previously COO of Makani Energy, the Alphabet company that wanted to use kits to harvest wind energy.

In November, Rickner told JS that the company's next step is to refine the technology to the point where it can build a 1-megawatt pilot, which he had targeted for 2026. The new funding will likely help finance that project.

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