First quarter investment in energy storage laying foundations for commercialization

The first quarter of 2014 brought a wave of energy storage investments in the US totalling $105 million, but the industry is still fighting to win over investors and commercialize the technology.

In January, Pennsylvania-based Aquion Energy raised $55 million Series D venture capital investment to develop its sodium-ion battery technology. Amprius, a spin-off venture of Stanford University, California, also made $30 million in a venture capital round.

The following month, battery technology specialists Primus Power raised $20 million from the Platinum Group Metals Development Fund, part of Anglo American Platinum. Andrew Hinkly, Executive Head of Marketing at Anglo American Platinum, said that "This is a strategic investment for Anglo American Platinum. It is both good for business and for the environment."

Yet as a whole the industry has struggled to gain wider acceptance from the investment community. With the California Public Utilities Commission [CPUC] mandating around 1.3 gigawatts of battery and grid storage for the state by 2020, companies are now fighting to raise the financing necessary to take advantage of this initiative.

A recent guide from Energy Storage Update on Commercializing Energy Storage in the United States' suggested that "an environment [exists] where traditional sources of investment are limited to a few entities that understand the market," created through a combination of an immature market, high-profile bankruptcies and lack of clear commercialization strategies.

The CPUC mandate, forcing utilities to deploy energy storage, will essentially turn California into a "proving ground" for the industry, explained the guide, and accelerate the commercialization process by providing valuable performance data in a utility grid setting. To benefit from the procurement process, energy storage companies must now focus on securing early-stage financing to commercialize their technology.

At Energy Storage USA 2014 (25-26 June, San Diego), major investors such as Citigroup and Rockland Capital will be debating the topic in a panel session on Energy storage financing in a risk adverse climate'. The session, tackling the conference's key theme of technology commercialization, will examine the impact of recent policy updates and increasing competition on energy storage funding. It will also assess the drivers for investment and evaluate the appetite of banks to invest in the market.

For more details on the session and to see the full 2 day program, please visit:

Jack Ahearne
Energy Storage Update

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