BY RICHARD HEAP:
“It’s clear that we need storage. It’s also clear that the opportunity is relatively large. You’re investing in a nascent sector that is going to grow over time.”
We are talking to Joe Mastrangelo, CEO at Eos Energy Storage, about the attraction of storage to investors. This was one of the topics in our Watts In Store webinar yesterday, which we hosted with Lockton and a panel of experts – including Mastrangelo’s colleague Balki Iyer, chief commercial officer at Eos.
We’ll bring you a write-up in our next edition of ESR on 7th August.
On 24th June, Eos concluded a tie-up with investor B. Riley that will see Eos list on the New York Stock Exchange, and has provided it with $225m of new equity financing. In this article, we discuss that deal and where it fits in the firm’s growth plans.
Start-up to scale-up
The transaction with B.Riley is important for Eos, which has taken a journey similar to other technology-focused storage firms.
The company was founded in 2008 by Michael Oster and inventor Steven Amendola, who designed a zinc hybrid cathode battery with a water-based electrolyte that forms the basis of its technology.
This was enough for Eos to win early-stage funding, including a $23m private placement in 2016, $23m in 2015, and $27m in two earlier rounds. This meant Eos could install pilot projects and small commercial installations, and begin to move from a research-focused start-up to a commercially focused scale-up.
Eos has so far installed projects on four continents, and delivering its initial commercial projects was a priority for Mastrangelo when he became CEO in July 2019. Before this he spent a year on the Eos board, and joined the firm in 2018 after 25 years at General Electric in a wide range of its energy roles.
It’s fair to say he’s had a busy year.
His initial priority as CEO was to oversee the installation of eight of the firm’s systems. This helped strengthen its commercial model and laid the groundwork for the tie-up with B. Riley. In addition, the company this week opened a new factory in Pittsburgh that is due to start full operations in August.
It also delivered projects including two 30kW/120kWh installations, with Duke Energy in North Carolina and the University of California. And it has secured recent wins including a 1MW/4MWh system for Motor Oil and Ingeteam at an oil refinery in Greece; and a deal for storage for rural microgrids in Nigeria.
Mastrangelo says Eos projects now have over 10,000 operating hours between them, which range from solar-and-storage to microgrid installations, and they show the technology can work from 50 degrees centigrade down to -12.
He says restrictions on funding thus far helped Eos to develop a streamlined design, but the deal with B. Riley will help deliver its next growth phase.
“This gives us a really good pool of capital to scale up manufacturing and scale up the team to grow the business,” he says. This should help Eos benefit from a global move away from fossil fuels to renewables, which means that “storage is needed”, as well as growth in the average size of energy storage projects.
“When you look at what’s installed, there are some bigger ones but the majority of these things are smaller projects,” he says.
As well as the growth of renewables, Mastrangelo says storage can alleviate grid problems and is easier to develop with a clearer return on investment than large transmission lines. This is in addition to broader climate issues.
“This is a pivotal time in the energy industry that comes along once in a generation, where we make the transition to new technologies,” he says. “Without it, the world misses any goal that it has on carbon reduction.”
The result is that storage companies are being pushed by investors to move faster, but adds that investors can do more to back companies that have a tested technology and are ready to grow further: “It’s a hard transition to make and you’ve got to find the right partner,” he says.