Viridi designs and builds fail-safe lithium-ion battery systems that are redefining point-of-use energy storage for industrial, medical, commercial, municipal and residential applications. Viridi’s products are the first lithium-ion batteries ever certified safe to use in occupied buildings — and they’re also rugged enough to use outdoors.
Viridi’s Green Machine systems provide fully renewable mobile energy solutions for construction equipment, waste disposal, last-mile delivery, and other portable industrial markets. That includes Viridi’s original product, an all-electric excavator that National Grid helped test.
Viridi products open new opportunities for industrial customers to buy and store electricity at less-expensive, off-peak times. The products also can offset the use of generators during outages. The Viridi faveo infrastructure backup system prevents costly disruptions for applications such as traffic systems; it also protects data and delivers system resilience.
National Grid Partners (NGP) serves as the eyes and ears of the business, searching for innovations to keep National Grid at the forefront of the energy industry. As the corporate investment and innovation arm of one of the world’s largest investor-owned energy companies, NGP is helping drive the transition to a more digitized, smarter, and renewable energy system. NGP does so by investing and collaborating at the intersection of emerging technology and energy.
When Viridi developed its first excavator prototype in 2009, National Grid agreed to put the machine to the test by deploying it in the field. Crews were not gentle.
The work of utility maintenance and construction pushed the excavators’ limits, often breaking them. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, for instance, one excavator was buried in a mudslide. But each rebuild provided an opportunity to refine.
“National Grid was a partner from day one. They would break our equipment and send it back, break it, send it back, break it, send it back,” said Patrick Hanley, Viridi’s chief risk officer. “It allowed us, over the course of a decade, to really refine our design and get real-world feedback.”
The utility crews’ input also made the final product more user-friendly. In one example, an operator on Long Island asked if the vehicle’s battery could power his handheld tools; he had been using a noisy, carbon-emitting generator for the job.
“We just didn’t think of it. He said, ‘Well, I thought of it. Can you do it?’ We said sure,” said Jon M. Williams, Viridi CEO. “Now the crews plug into the machine silently. No noise, no generator, and no additional machine.”
The collaboration has helped National Grid work toward its goal of reducing its carbon footprint and becoming net-zero by 2050. About half the excavators it currently uses in the US are Green Machine’s electric models.
“We are constantly looking at not only what’s available in the marketplace, but we’re also pushing all of our suppliers to convert their equipment,” said Brent Ebner, principal fleet specialist in National Grid’s engineering group.
In January 2022, Viridi announced a $94.7 million Series C funding round, and National Grid became an investor in the company as well as a customer.
National Grid’s relationship with Viridi gives the company an opportunity to not only move toward its carbon reduction goals, but also to shape the development of a new segment of electric vehicles.
Viridi’s technology is also uniquely enticing to National Grid as a utility, explained Rudy Wynter, president of National Grid New York. By developing safe, high-density batteries, Viridi has the potential to transform how and when electricity is delivered to customers.
Viridi, based in Buffalo, NY, also contributes to the economic development of upstate New York, one of the regions National Grid serves.
“This investment is another example of our commitment to the New York energy transition and the role that New York innovators and entrepreneurs can play in that transition,” Wynter said.
“The new era of energy storage has begun. Reliable energy storage that is safe enough to be placed in occupied buildings has been the missing piece in the energy puzzle, and now it’s here,” said CEO Williams. “The potential is almost limitless.”
The market for electrified heavy equipment is expected to reach $205 billion in North America by 2025.
California is pushing to reduce emissions from construction equipment and other off-road vehicles over the next decade, which could benefit Viridi. The state also will require portable generators to be zero-emissions by 2028, potentially another boon.
In the meantime, National Grid’s endorsement has boosted Viridi’s profile in the utility industry, helping it gain entry with prospective customers.
“I don’t know that we can put a value on that,” Williams said. “National Grid Partners going through due diligence and investing resources into the company was really transformational.”