Energy veterans back disruptive solar power battery group Moixa
Surge of interest in systems that store power from panels and sell it to the grid
Sam Laidlaw, the former Centrica boss, has invested in a British home battery company with two other veteran UK energy executives in a sign of surging interest in disruptive solar power storage.
Mr Laidlaw has backed Moixa Technology, a small London-based company that makes briefcase-sized battery systems that can store electricity from solar panels and sell it to the grid.
Separately, Ian Marchant, former chief executive of SSE, another big six energy company, and Brian Count, previously CEO of Innogy, have also invested in Moixa, the Financial Times has learnt.
The trio are among the most high-profile UK backers of energy storage, a technology that threatens to disrupt the big, centralised electricity systems the three men once helped to run.
Dozens of companies are racing to find affordable ways to store intermittent solar and wind power but the effort has been hampered by the relatively high cost of batteries.
With average lithium-ion cell prices now about a third of what they were in 2010, energy investors are eyeing opportunities closely.
The US dominates the energy storage industry today, with Japan a distant second. Germany is by far the largest market in Europe, followed by the UK.
But interest in the sector is growing fast and at least 24 battery storage projects are operating or under construction in the UK, according to Eunomia, a research group.
Simon Daniel, chief executive and co-founder of Moixa, said his company had been helped by a renewable energy boom that has led rooftop solar panel systems to sprout on an estimated 800,000 UK homes since 2010.
The company has installed only about 500 systems so far but is aiming for 1m units by 2020. “Having some big six CEOs who understand the sector is quite helpful,” Mr Daniel said.
Moixa systems cost from £2,200 each and are designed to be part of an interconnected “virtual power company” that can sell electricity to National Grid. That means customers can offset the cost of the systems while also saving money by using more solar power generated from their roofs.
Mr Marchant said such technologies could be part of a dramatic shift in the energy landscape.