Eos Energy Storage, the aqueous zinc battery startup, listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange Tuesday after CEO Joe Mastrangelo virtually rang the opening bell.

The 12-year-old company now goes by the name Eos Energy Enterprise, Inc. and trades under the symbol EOSE. Rather than conduct a traditional initial public offering, Eos partnered with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) called B. Riley Principal Merger Corp. II.

Numerous clean energy startups have gone public this year via the SPAC maneuver, which streamlines the process compared to a typical IPO. But the predecessors largely came from the vehicle space, like hydrogen truck maker Nikola Motor, which briefly approached Ford's market valuation after listing. Battery company QuantumScape also took the SPAC route this year, but its hardware is largely focused on supplying electric vehicles with safer, more energy-dense cells.

Eos, on the other hand, makes novel hardware for stationary grid storage, a battery that uses zinc instead of the conventional lithium-ion chemistries. The company is asking investors to bet that grid storage installations will surge — not a risky bet, as U.S. installations will double this year, and again next year, according to data from Wood Mackenzie. But beyond that, an investment in Eos is a bet on developers choosing to stray from the mass-produced lithium-ion technology that supplies almost all today's grid battery projects.

So far, EOSE is holding around the $10.50 share price where it opened Tuesday morning, on a day when the Nasdaq overall is down. Owners of 37 percent of the SPAC's shares opted to redeem, or cash out, prior to the merger with Eos. After subtracting fees, the transaction is on track to net Eos around $130 million, CEO Joe Mastrangelo told GTM Tuesday.

"Now we have the capital to really realize the potential of the company," he said. "To get where we are is truly phenomenal."

Funds to deliver a growing pipeline

The lion's share of the money raised will go to building manufacturing capacity, Mastrangelo said. Eos is also building out its commercial team, which doubled in North America in recent months. As projects move forward, Eos will also staff up for installation, commissioning and operations.

When Eos and B. Riley announced the SPAC plan this summer, Eos touted a "significant" though largely unspecified pipeline of customers. Since then, it added real names and numbers to that claim. Eos now has a total of $2.5 billion of orders to deliver on, Mastrangelo said.

In early November, Eos unveiled a deal to supply developer Hecate with 1 gigawatt-hour of zinc batteries, worth approximately $250 million, for projects in Colorado, New Mexico and Texas. "Upon the completion of several customary closing conditions, purchase orders from Hecate are expected in the next six to nine months," the announcement stated.

Previously, Eos had signed a "binding agreement" with International Electric Power to deliver 1 GWh of batteries for standalone storage projects in Texas. And it partnered with a group called Carson Hybrid Energy Storage to supply a 1 MW pilot and then scale to 500 MWh in the Los Angeles region.

Massive storage pipelines sometimes translate into real projects on the ground, but not always. Mastrangelo insisted the pipeline numbers refer to "fully negotiated" contracts with customers, covering scope of supply, long-term warranty and service agreements. To the extent that "closing conditions" remain, they have to do with finalizing offtake agreements or financing for the development itself, not Eos' participation in the project, he said. 

Closing deals of that size is notable for an insurgent battery company, which has to compete with financially stable battery manufacturers like LG Chem and Samsung.

"The big question always was, is Eos going to be here 15 years from now?" Mastrangelo said. "We’re a company now with staying power because of the capitalization."

Scale with the market

Eos survived where many lithium-ion alternative startups failed. One lesson the company learned from history is to avoid paying for a massive factory before the sales volume justifies it, Mastrangelo said.

Such an investment proved challenging for Aquion and Alevo, which both ran out of cash before reaching widespread commercialization.

Eos built its manufacturing line in Pittsburgh as a joint venture with Holtec, an established power plant manufacturing company that is also a strategic investor in Eos. 

"The factory can scale as we grow," Mastrangelo said. "If the market should slow down, we can slow down."

The market for energy storage, though, seems set to increase. U.S. deployments set consecutive records for each of the years President Donald Trump has been in office, though his administration did little to proactively support energy storage. President-elect Joe Biden won on a platform that explicitly supports storage deployment as part of a broader clean energy transition. And numerous states and electric utilities have already made their own commitments to broader storage deployment.

The energy storage pie is growing. The question is how much of it Eos can manage to gobble.