Our new series of blog posts introduces this year’s participants of Japan Energy Challenge. In this edition, we’re sitting down with Mark Bailey, Chief Commercial Officer of Connected Energy to discuss the role his company can play in the future of Japan’s energy market.
Connected Energy provide energy storage units built from second-life EV batteries for use in commercial, industrial, and utility applications. According to McKinsey, due to the rapid uptake of EVs in recent years the expected global market value of second-life energy storage could exceed $30 billion. Because Connected Energy are pioneers in this sector, we’ll try to shed some light into what makes their solution so valuable in this article.
Hi Mark, can you tell us a bit about the company and its founders?
In 2010 Matthew Lumsden, Chief Executive Officer, founded Future Transport Systems (FTS) and Connected Energy with the aim of building a technology business to capitalise on growth in the Electric Vehicle (EV) sector. The vision behind the business stemmed from Matthew’s years of experience in the energy sector and the knowledge and experience of his Technical Director, Ian MacDonald, in the automotive and EV sector.
Connected Energy was established to commercialise the research and development work undertaken by our award-winning parent company FTS. Connected Energy has commercialised a unique technology (E-STOR) and an approach to energy storage which has the circular economy in its ‘DNA’. Connected Energy uses second life EV battery packs from a variety of OEM manufacturers including Renault and Jaguar Land Rover.
How does your solution fit within the wider trends of Digitalisation and Decarbonisation in the energy sector?
Our technology is a powerful example of circularity. Connected Energy is focussing on reuse and therefore maximising the value of already ‘extracted’ natural resources prior to recycling. Connected Energy has identified additional value that can be extracted from the finite resources embedded in EV batteries and is able to double their working lives. If the batteries were simply recycled after their first life use, this value would be lost. Once installed and active, our technology remotely operates and monitors the second life batteries to maximise their utility and once they are degraded beyond all usefulness in this application, they are recycled.
Our control system is unique in being applicable to any OEM EV battery and our modular design means that as batteries become degraded, they can be easily and quickly swapped. This low-cost technology also facilitates the greater uptake of energy storage which in turn enables the greater penetration and optimisation of renewable energy in electricity networks.
In the context of emerging distributed and non-dispatchable renewable energy and demand management, data, control and asset visibility are critical to optimisation. Connected Energy is adopting big data analysis and interpretation techniques that provide stakeholders with the information they require to clearly understand technical, commercial and environmental performance.
Are there milestones you are particularly proud to have achieved as a company?
Developing and proving our technology, and being able to deploy it on a commercial basis were obviously key milestones but our business is dependent on scale so the points at which we formalised our relationship with Renault and then attracted key investors like Macquarie, Engie and Sumitomo really made our vision of scaling up to be a major international player seem realistic and tangible.
Let’s look at Japan Energy Challenge’s scope: what specifically attracted you about the prospect of expanding to the Japanese market?
Japan liberalised its energy market in April 2016 and is looking to embrace innovative solutions to its energy needs. Moreover, the number of electric cars on the road is rising rapidly as environmental issues, including climate change, weigh on the minds of motorists around the world. Japan Energy Challenge provides Connected Energy with a platform to realise its next phase of ambitious international growth plans.
And finally, how will your solution promote the expansion and modernisation of the Japanese energy sector?
If you believe in renewable energy, you must believe in energy storage. If you believe in electric vehicles you must believe in second life batteries. If you believe that the world must move towards a circular economy model, Connected Energy’s approach to using the rapidly increasing quantities of second life EV batteries to produce low cost energy storage must be a key component of any future energy system
Connected Energy will be taking part in Japan Energy Challenge in London this year, you can read about the other companies taking part in this year’s edition here. You can also find out more about the program, ventures and sponsors by clicking the links.