A new modular energy company targeting data centers has secured funding from OpenAI’s Sam Altman and venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z).

Exowatt, a new energy company, this week announced a modular energy platform designed to power data centers. The company also announced a $20 million seed funding round from a16z, venture firm Atomic, and Sam Altman.

Exowatt's solar and thermal storage system – Exowatt

Exowatt's P3 product consists of a modular system combining a heat collector, a heat battery, and a heat engine capable of providing dispatchable power and heat.

The P3 modules are designed to fit the space of a standard 40-foot shipping container. The company said that, unlike traditional solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity directly, Exowatt stores solar energy in a thermal battery that can reportedly retain energy for up to 24 hours.

Exowatt said storing heat instead of electricity stores energy at a “fraction of the cost” of electrochemical batteries – the company claims as low as $0.01 per kilowatt-hour – and reduces dependence on rare earth materials.

"Unlike traditional solutions that require significant upfront costs and extended setup times, Exowatt's modular system can be deployed rapidly and cost-effectively – and it's available this year," said Exowatt CEO and co-founder Hannan Parvizian. "Exowatt is built to respond quickly to the escalating energy demands of the modern world, especially those spurred by the rapid growth of AI."

Exowatt claims a backlog of more than 500MW for data centers across the US and plans to begin deployments later this year. No customers were named.

“AI models have been doubling in size every three months—a pace that requires significantly more data center power,” said Jack Abraham, CEO of Atomic and co-founder of Exowatt. “In order to keep up with AI advancements, we need more sustainable energy solutions, which is why we started Exowatt. Our mission is to provide extremely low-cost energy that advances the capabilities of global AI infrastructure while protecting our planet.”

The Miami, Florida-based company was founded last year by Atomic’s Abraham and Hannan Parvizian. Parvizian has previously held roles at Telsa, Accenture, Siemens, and General Electric among others.

“Exowatt is an innovative company helping to meet our country’s growing energy needs,” said Katherine Boyle, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz. “By committing to full US manufacturing with domestically sourced components, Exowatt will significantly strengthen our national infrastructure and resilience.”

The company has not disclosed the technology used to store the thermal energy, but employs a number of employees with a background in photonics.

In 2017, Alphabet's X announced its own thermal energy storage project relying on molten salt. The effort has since spun out as its own company, Malta Inc.