Liquid air energy storage firm goes fundraising

Highview's pre-commercial demonstration plant is due to enter operation this summer. Image credit: Highview Power Storage.

Highview’s pre-commercial demonstration plant is due to enter operation this summer. Image credit: Highview Power Storage.

 

By Jason Deign

Highview Power Storage has launched a growth capital fundraising round amid commissioning for its first pre-commercial liquid air energy storage plant.

The 20-strong UK company is looking for an unspecified amount of cash but will most likely not be talking to venture capital (VC) investors, head of business development Matthew Barnett told Energy Storage Report.

“Rather than going down the VC route, we’re sticking with high-net-worth angel investors and strategic investors,” he said.

The latter group might include businesses that could add value to Highview’s offering, such as an engineering capability, a route to market or complementary technology, said Barnett.

“If a VC came up with GBP£15m then that’s a different story, but there’s a time and a place for a VC to be involved,” he continued. “Maybe we’re entering that now, maybe we’re not.
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Kreisel aims to put Tesla through its paces

Kreisel today launches a residential battery with improvements developed for the automotive sector. Pic: Kreisel.

Kreisel today launches a residential battery with improvements developed for the automotive sector. Pic: Kreisel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Jason Deign

Kreisel Electric has become the latest battery vendor to take on the Tesla Powerwall with the launch of a residential energy storage product today.

The Austrian industrial firm is looking to improve on Tesla’s trailblazing battery pack with a system that uses the same 18650-size lithium-ion cells, with a few significant manufacturing improvements.

Critically, Kreisel uses a laser system to solder connections to each cell in the battery. This is in contrast to traditional manufacturing processes where welding is employed.

The heat generated from the welding process damages cells before they are even used, said Christian Schlögl, head of business development. “With our laser technology we don’t destroy the cell,” he told Energy Storage Report.

The laser manufacturing process helps make sure all of the 8,000 or so cells in each battery have the same capacity and voltage once connected, so there is no need to balance them afterwards.
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UK energy storage: why a Brexit may be good

Britons discussing the Brexit in a pub yesterday. Photo: www.animam.photography.

Britons discussing the Brexit in a pub yesterday. Photo: www.animam.photography.

By Jason Deign

UK renewable energy interests could face significant market disruption if Britons vote to leave the European Union (EU) in a referendum this month.

But while sectors such as wind energy fret over what a so-called ‘Brexit’ could mean for European-led subsidy programmes, whether or not a departure could harm the UK’s nascent energy storage market is less clear-cut.

In particular, the fact that storage is already being deployed in the UK without any form of government support means further growth in the market may not be dependent on political links with Europe.

Last month, for example, the UK’s National Grid launched the first battery system in Great Britain to provide sub-second frequency response services.

Hertfordshire, England-based Renewable Energy Systems won the bid to provide 2MW of storage capacity under a four-year contract.
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Aquion targets 50% cost reduction in 10 years

Aquion Energy batteries are being used to store solar energy for nighttime illumination on Thailand’s Sky Lane, a 23.5km bicycle track at Suvarnabhumi Bangkok International Airport.

Aquion Energy batteries are being used to store solar energy for nighttime illumination along Thailand’s Sky Lane, a 23.5km bicycle track at Suvarnabhumi Bangkok International Airport. Photo: Aquion.

By Jason Deign

Saltwater battery manufacturer Aquion Energy is aiming to cut the price of its batteries by up to 50% within a decade, a company executive confirmed.

Newly named chief commercial officer Tim Poor said it was “very reasonable” to expect a 25% to 50% cut in costs once current manufacturing facilities reached full scale, which would happen within “single-digit years.”

Aquion currently has manufacturing capacity for 200MWh of batteries a year, based on a single production line. But the company’s factory has space for four more lines, allowing for up to 1GWh of capacity to be produced a year.

Poor said the company was planning to double production in the fourth quarter of this year. Aquion has so far shipped 20MWh of storage to about 200 customers, with 50% of products going for export, he said.

Historically, though, Aquion has tended to attract attention for its fundraising escapades rather than its business growth.
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P2P energy player lobbies for storage

Battery storage in P2P energy networks could help businesses such as the Eden Project save money. (Pic: Jürgen Matern)

Battery storage in P2P energy networks could help businesses such as the Eden Project save money. (Pic: Jürgen Matern)

By Jason Deign

Peer-to-peer (P2P) power supplier Open Utility is planning to pressure the UK electricity market regulator towards introducing grid-balancing measures that could include energy storage.

The company, which runs an energy marketplace called Piclo, hopes to convince the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem) that P2P networks are good for consumers and distributed generation asset owners.

“There are significant benefits in better balancing renewables and demand on a local electricity network,” said James Johnston, Open Utility’s CEO and co-founder. “Energy storage will be key in enabling this balancing.”

Currently, he said, UK regulations do little to encourage the use of energy storage in P2P networks. Piclo, which allows businesses to buy renewable power directly from source, does not currently include storage, for example.

However, Johnston said: “If regulations allow for it, incentivising local balancing using P2P energy matching could unlock significant financial rewards for local consumers and generators.”
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Oil giants pile into energy storage

This five-year chart of Brent crude prices shows the pain oil companies have been experiencing since mid-2014... and why they might be looking to diversify into energy storage.

This five-year chart of Brent crude prices shows the pain oil companies have been experiencing since mid-2014… and why they might be looking to diversify into energy storage (chart: CNBC).

By Jason Deign

The last week has seen two Big Oil firms move into energy storage as continuing low prices for crude force petroleum sector players to diversify.

On Monday the French oil giant Total announced a friendly takeover of Saft Groupe, which specialises in batteries for the transport, industry and defence sectors.

The €950m purchase represents a 38.3% premium on Saft’s share price on the close of business the Friday before the announcement. It is also 41.9% above Saft’s weighted average share price over the previous six months, Total said.

“The acquisition of Saft is part of Total’s ambition to accelerate its development in the fields of renewable energy and electricity, initiated in 2011 with the acquisition of SunPower,” said Patrick Pouyanné, Total’s chairman and CEO.

“It will notably allow us to complement our portfolio with electricity storage solutions, a key component of the future growth of renewable energy.”
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Viking launches solar-and-cold-storage combo

By Jason Deign

Viking Cold Solutions, a US thermal energy storage start-up, is launching what is likely the world’s first solar-plus-cold-storage combination at Hannover Messe, Germany, this week.

Pic: Viking Cold is aiming to tie its phase-change material cold storage with solar.

Viking Cold is aiming to tie its phase-change material cold storage with solar. Photo: Viking Cold.

Energy Storage Report understands the offering is not so much an integrated product as a concept aimed at raising awareness of the efficiency of cold storage over batteries.

Using cold storage with grid power can improve the efficiency of energy use by up to 34%, Viking Cold claimed.

Combined with solar, it could cut ongoing energy costs much further while providing a quicker return on investment (ROI) than batteries, the company said.

“We aim for a three-year payback,” said James Bell, president and CEO. “Our return on investment is based on energy savings. The bigger the facility, the bigger the savings. It can be tens of thousands of dollars a year.”
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Crowdfunding: a new route to cash?

UK crowdfunding campaign successes for Renovagen, Highview Power Storage and Powervault, as venture capital investment decreases for energy storage start-ups.

UK crowdfunding successes for Renovagen, Highview Power Storage and Powervault, as venture capital investment decreases for energy storage start-ups. Photo: Renovagen

By Jason Deign

A UK campaign this month underscored the value of crowdfunding as new figures showed energy storage venture capital financing on the wane.

Renovagen, an integrated solar-plus-storage technology developer, had raised GBP£1m from 807 investors when its crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube came to an end last week.

The campaign saw the start-up getting 167% of its £600,000 target, with the largest single investment amounting to £100,000.

The money will be used to fund go-to-market costs for Renovagen’s Roll-Array portable solar power system, which consists of flexible, transportable solar farm units with integrated energy storage.

Renovagen claims the technology enables deployment of large solar power capacity more quickly than competing methods.
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