An up-and-coming residential battery storage company in the UK has attracted the interest of three high profile investors, each of them former top-ranking executives of Britain’s “big six” energy industry incumbents.
Financial Times reported on the weekend that the former CEO of British utility Centrica, Sam Laidlaw, had been revealed as an investor in Moixa, a London-based company that makes “briefcase-sized” home battery systems that store excess solar electricity for later use, or to sell it back to the grid.
Separately, the FT said, was Ian Marchant, the former CEO of the “UK’s broadest-based energy company” SSE, and Brian Count, a former CEO of Innogy (now owned by Germany’s RWE), had also invested in the battery maker.
Moixa’s lithium-ion phostphate “plug and play” battery units, called Maslow, range in capacity from 2kWh (pictured right) to a stackable 4-6kWh unit and cost upwards of £2,200 ($A3,800). And, like the Reposit Power-Redback offering in Australia, are designed to combine solar and storage to make a “virtual power company” that can sell electricity to National Grid, as well as maximise solar power self consumption.
According to the Moixa website, the small company is currently undertaking a private investment tranche, not its first, and additional grant activity, and plans to raise a further £3.5-5m+ over the next 12-18 months from venture capital/strategic or private sources.
And it appears to be doing quite well. As the FT notes, the trio are among the most high-profile UK backers of battery storage, “a technology that threatens to disrupt the big, centralised electricity systems the three men once helped to run.”
Their interest in Moixa confirms the key role battery storage is expected to play in the energy landscape of the not-too distant future, as more and more electricity is generated by distributed renewable energy sources.
Laidlaw, in particular – who stepped down from his role at Centrica after eight years at the helm, and whose father was former BP chairman Sir Christopher Laidlaw – is a study in how quickly attitudes are changing, and finance is being redirected, in the energy industry.
Not to miss an opportunity, he has also recently started up a £3.3 billion fossil fuel “war chest” called Neptune Oil and Gas, which will be funded by Carlyle Group and CVC Capital Partners to buy up distressed oil and gas assets “at this pivotal time for the industry”.
But for battery storage, the market is headed in the opposite direction. And the UK – with rooftop solar on an estimated 800,000 homes – is second only to Germany as the largest market in Europe, with at least 24 battery storage projects currently operating or under construction, according to research.
According to Moxia CEO and co-founder Simon Daniel, the company has installed 500 systems so far but is aiming to double that to one million by 2020.
“Having some big six CEOs who understand the sector is quite helpful,” he said.
“I think the move from large, grid-connected power stations to the combination of small-scale residential solar and storage is the energy equivalent of the switch … from big mainframe computers to WiFi and iPads.”