Building the businessPosted by Mark Howitt Tue, September 23, 2014 18:27
After tough negotiations, Pricewaterhouse Coopers have
signed an unprecedented engagement agreement with Storelectric. They are taking
a significant shareholding in the business in return for free support of
various kinds, such as:
- Corporate, structure
- Financial, commercial
- Funding the pilot and first full-scale plants.
They have many reasons for doing this:
- Massive scale energy needed by renewable generators to ensure growth
regardless of government support;
- Such storage is needed by the grid to provide peak power and back-up to
renewables, as capacity is reducing and becoming more expensive to maintain as
- Governments across the world have identified truly grid-scale energy
storage as a key technology benefiting their economies by billions per economy
- As DECC said, ours is the first viable solution at this scale;
- Ours is entirely carbon-free for peak smoothing (probably well over 90% of
our future output), and low carbon for mass storage;
- This investment fits in well with PwC's ongoing green strategy.
It goes without saying that we have a fantastic amount to gain from this
partnership, too! Not least that it will help to close our consortium deals.
Building the businessPosted by Mark Howitt Thu, August 21, 2014 12:20
I can't believe it's so long since our last post - so much has happened, quite apart from the holiday season.Clean and Cool
We were delighted to be selected as
finalists at the Clean and Cool event at the International Festival of
Business last month in Liverpool.Funding
A VC has taken up references and met with two of our partner companies, at their request, with a view to providing the next round of funding.PwC
We have agreed terms with PwC to contract with us and become a significant shareholder in Storelectric. It is good to have their expertise on board, in setting up and structuring our business, in enabling the financing (and related exits), and in pulling together the final consortium.Siemens
Siemens have presented their 62.3% efficient 100% renewable proposal to a high-level meeting of 7 of their UK directors and senior managers, PwC, Oswald Consultancy and our cavern supplying partner. They are currently considering whether to proceed with a 40MW pilot, a smaller one, or even (as they have the technology in their current portfolio) go straight to a 500MW pilot. PwC are getting financiers' views on this question. Siemens' next steps are to go for corporate commercial approval, and also to explore the extent to which they wish to contribute financing.Oswald Consultancy
Oswald have explored many different set-ups for both peak smoothing and mass storage, as well as specifying the thermal management system.Caverns
A multinational that does not yet wish to be named is quite advanced in discussing our use of their existing, gas-optimised, salt caverns for the pilot plant. Their next steps are exactly like Siemens: to go for corporate commercial approval, and also to explore the extent to which they wish to contribute financing. They recently hosted a meeting with us and UCLan to look at the caverns and discuss their geology and electrical grid connections.Civils
Another two multinational civil engineering firms are expressing interest in supporting Storelectric. Discussions are continuing.Chairman
We have found a prospective chairman, who is already helping us greatly though we cannot appoint him until we can afford to pay him. He created and ran BP Renewables, and has taken many environmental technology start-ups through their initial phases and to IPO or trade sale. Chemistry is good.Government
Both DECC and BIS are looking for the best ways to help and support the pilot.
Building the businessPosted by Mark Howitt Fri, May 16, 2014 21:40
Shell Springboard have released the video
they made, in which we explain the purpose and CAES system proposed. Importantly, Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Siemens add their support for Storelectric on this video
As for the national finals, although the judges thought that our idea was outstanding and the business very strong, they did not believe that we could achieve it - despite such outstanding support from a consortium of world-leading multinationals and engineers.
Building the businessPosted by Mark Howitt Mon, May 05, 2014 17:49
Siemens and Oswald Consultancy are working with Storelectric to develop our ideas on CAES into reality. Following a number of iterations, they have developed a system, using only slight modifications of existing products, that achieves 63% efficiency with a 100% renewable CAES system. This is comfortably above the threshold for profitability set by Storelectric at <60% for the higher efficiency peak smoothing operation of our plant. Moreover, it only uses a small part of Storelectric's efficiency improvement ideas.
Because of size and time constraints (it is 7-14 times larger, and stores from season to season rather than for half a day at a time), the mass storage operation of our plant will have to operate with little thermal management and no pressure control. Even so, Siemens and Oswald have developed a 53% efficient system. This burns gas, but only 1/3 of the amount as an equivalent gas-fired power station - and we're all still working on an entirely renewable version of it.
Building the businessPosted by Mark Howitt Mon, May 05, 2014 16:41
The keenness of universities to join Storelectric's consortium is extremely gratifying, and very reassuring that not only do we have something truly innovative, but also it looks so do-able that they want their names to be associated with it.UCLan
(University of Central Lancashire) were the first on board, and have been backing us since with true enthusiasm. They will be doing much of the general background work to support the initial pilot, such as geology, ecology and planning. They also have considerable experience running EU programmes, and will be supporting us in the administration and reporting of any EU funded projects we may win - starting with the Horizon 2020 bid we're currently preparing. UCLan is a fast growing university that is fast building a reputation for their industrial liaison and support.University of Chester
, like UCLan, are building a reputation for industrial support. They recently received the country's largest-ever endowment, the 110 acre and fully equipped Shell Technology Centre at Stanlow refinery, which is being re-named their Thornton Campus and is the seat of their new Faculty of Engineering. They have also taken on a number of former Shell researchers and engineers. Their support will be invaluable in a year or so, as we start designing the implementation of the pipeline, fluid management and thermal management systems.University of Manchester
is the alma mater of both Jeff and Mark: Jeff read Maths and Physics at Manchester while Mark read Physics with Electronics at UMIST, with which it merged in 2004. Manchester has enormous resources in environmental and high voltage engineering, including a partnership with National Grid, all of which will be invaluable to Storelectric. They also have a great strength in the environmental and societal ramifications of various energy industries.University College Dublin (UCD)
is Ireland's premier university, renowned for excellence and research. They have long experience working with many energy companies on new technologies and installations, all of which they bring to bear on this. Being in a country without major salt basins (the Irish one is in Northern Ireland), they are also ideally placed to examine how countries without such basins can use their interconnects to gain most of the benefits of CAES in neighbouring countries. Moreover, with Siemens, they are the third EU national partner for EU funding applications.
Building the businessPosted by Mark Howitt Tue, April 08, 2014 13:53
It's incredible that almost a month has gone by since the last blog post - it's been so hectic.
We've commissioned Oswald Consultancy to undertake the initial outline system and subsystem definitions, including thermodynamic and air flow calculations, to feed into both equipment manufacturers and systems / site engineering.
We've also commissioned patent attorneys to improve the first three patent applications, following receipt of two search reports, to secure the IP before the deadlines come round.
The equipment manufacturer spent half a day with us comparing our requirements to their portfolio, and are confident that they already have most of the kit available.
Three universities (UCLan, Chester and Manchester) are seeking to work with us on initial projects supporting the pilot plant, and afterwards on numerous system refinements. We're focused on minimising technical risk for the pilot plant, but improvements can follow later and on future installations. We are also being integrated into the Irish Sea Rim programme (initiated in UCLan), the new Energy Catapult, and other visions for the North West.
Possibly the most important news is that we have raised our first round of funds, at very close to target value. The investors (all private) are enthusiastic backers of all we're doing, and we're finding their support invaluable.
We received the official photographs from the Shell Springboard - please see above, with Angus Gillespie, Vice President of CO2 who presented it.
Building the businessPosted by Mark Howitt Mon, March 10, 2014 20:54
This has been an extremely busy week with the follow-ups from the Springboard win - and we still haven't finished all our actions from it! One of the key tasks is to arrange for Shell's contractors to make a 3-4 minute film on Storelectric for the national finals - they're doing one on each of the 6 finalists.
Political awareness is growing - Michael Fallon MP, Minister of State at DECC, wrote to Fiona Bruce MP that he is aware of us and our proposals, in a letter that nicely (but non-committally) supports the fact that we're in the right business.
But all that hasn't stopped our creative juices, so we've now written and submitted a ninth patent application. It'll support a strong evolution of the business after the first installation is complete; but now it's filed we can leave it and concentrate on the core technologies.
Building the businessPosted by Mark Howitt Wed, March 05, 2014 06:27
Last night Storelectric won the Shell Springboard regional finals, against very strong competition. The other seven finalists were all outstanding, but the judges bought into both Storelectric's vision to back up renewable electricity generation for the whole country, for a week, and the feasibility of our proposals.
The judges' interrogation focused on our innovation, the practicality of our solutions, our commercial viability, our route to market and the fantastic consortium of world-leading businesses that we are building to deliver it. They were struck that our proposal, on its own and restricted to peak power, can achieve 7% of the UK's 2050 emissions reduction targets - and with the potential to grow to 25% and beyond.
The prize will certainly be a springboard for us. The credibility from the in-depth analysis and approval by academics and industry experts, the publicity and the prize will enable us to:
- Reinforce our growing consortium of businesses to deliver our proposals;
- Build a consortium of investors for the initial stages;
- Nail down our initial IP; and
- Undertake significant up-front engineering work.
We would like to thank Shell for this support, platform and prize.