U.K. startup Moixa, which has megawatts of behind-the-meter batteries in the U.K. and Japan running on its distributed energy management software, has landed an £8.6 million ($11.1 million) venture capital round led by electric vehicle-as-grid asset partner, Honda.
Monday’s investment also included previous investors Japanese investment firm Itochu Corporation and First Imagine! Ventures, as well as Lithuanian firm Contrarian Ventures. The London-based startup has previously raised £5.5 million ($7.1 million) in January 2018, £1.5 million ($1.9 million) and £2 million ($2.6 million) in 2017, and seed rounds and grants stretching back to its 2006 founding.
Moixa has built a roster of partners using its GridShare platform to orchestrate the charging and discharging of their assets to serve grid needs, ranging from local power flow balancing to system-wide capacity and frequency regulation. CEO Simon Daniel has set the ambitious goal of having 200 megawatt-hours under management by next year, driven by significant policy support for technologies to integrate rooftop solar PV and plug-in EVs and reduce the grid’s reliance on fossil fuel-fired power plants.
In the U.K., Moixa got a boost in 2017 from the government’s £246 million (USD $321 million) funding package for battery R&D and a plan to increase smart energy technology penetration in homes and businesses. Moixa’s work was featured as one of the plan’s case studies, and the company was awarded a £268,000 ($346,000) government grant.
Some of the projects underway at the time included a £10.8 million ($13.9 million) renewable energy integration with Hitachi on the Scilly Isles, an Atlantic Ocean archipelago with about 2,000 inhabitants, and a solar-battery urban renewal project with the Oxford City Council.
Last month, Moixa unveiled its latest plans for the U.K. — a three-year, £40 million project that will link about 1 megawatt of behind-the-meter batteries in homes, schools and government offices, and another 1 megawatt of electric vehicle batteries. The project will include solar panels and batteries at 250 homes, and will provide a total of 4 megawatts of generation and 4.2 megawatt-hours of storage capacity.
Honda announced in March that it was working with Moixa, as part of its still-nascent plans for an energy management solutions business to support its plan to sell only electric vehicles in Europe by 2025. The automaker said it was pursuing technology feasibility studies in the U.K. and in Germany, with developments expected later this year.
Moixa has also built up a significant fleet of assets in Japan, working with partners such as trading house Itochu, which also joined this week’s investment round, and Tokyo Electric Power Co., which invested £500,000 in the startup in 2017 as part of a distributed energy investment strategy that runs from system-wide smart meter networks to behind-the-meter batteries and blockchain-enabled energy trading. In October, the three partners unveiled the fruits of their work together, a 35 megawatt-hour fleet of behind-the-meter batteries capable of responding to grid needs, based in 3,500 participating homes that receive special rates to encourage off-peak energy usage.
In a side note, Moixa is also a champion of direct current (DC) as an alternative to alternating current (AC) for building electrification, with the idea of reducing power conversion inefficiencies by linking the DC produces by household solar and batteries to the DC consumed by most household electronics. But the technical benefits of the DC-only approach can be outweighed by the cost and complexity of trying to move away from the world’s embedded investment in AC for buildings, as evidenced by Honda’s decision to close down a DC-only microgrid pilot project in California this year, after the vendor behind the technology decided to take its business in another direction.