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Dyson leads increased VC energy storage investment

Mercom Capital has issued its findings from the battery and storage, smart grid and energy efficiency sectors. Image: Fraunhofer ISE.
Investment by UK tech entrepreneur and inventor James Dyson into battery company Sakti3 was among the biggest deals in the sector in the first quarter of this year, a new report has found.

Texas-headquartered consultancy Mercom Capital, this week issued the “Smart Grid, Battery/Storage, Efficiency Funding and M&A” report for Q1 2015.

Dyson is thought to have contributed a significant portion of Sakti3’s US$20 million March funding round, helping to drive venture capital (VC) investment into the battery and storage sector up by almost 50% on the final quarter of last year. In Q4 2014, Mercom reported, US$47 million was invested from VC sources, while the first quarter of 2015 saw US$69 million invested across seven VC deals, up by US$22 million, despite there being the same number of high profile deals in each quarter.

Sakti3 is looking to commercialise solid-state lithium-ion battery technology in a number of sectors, claiming its production processes can speed up the scaled manufacture of batteries. The Michigan start-up in which Dyson and others including Japan’s Itochu have taken a direct interest, appears to currently be focusing on batteries for EVs but according to various reports the company also sees potential for its products in stationary storage applications.

The other biggest VC deal in the sector last quarter was another US$20 million raised by Boston Power, another US company making lithium-ion batteries. Meanwhile EOS Energy Storage, which develops and makes zinc hybrid cathode energy storage systems, was the recipient of US$15 million.

Mercom Capital CEO Raj Prabhu told PV Tech Storage yesterday that among the few notable mergers and acquisitions (M&A) to be disclosed in the timescale covered by the report was the acquisition of Solar Grid Storage, a utility-scale storage start-up, by the world’s largest renewable energy developer, SunEdison. Solar Grid Storage is currently active in the noted frequency regulation market offered in the service area of mid-Western US utility company PJM. In essence, the PJM market recognises and rewards the value of fast-responding frequency regulation.

The sale of Polypore International, a maker of microporous membranes for energy storage, as well as membranes for filtration in other industries including healthcare, raised US$2.2 billion in one of the other disclosed M&A deals of the quarter.

Elsewhere, solid oxide fuel cell maker Bloom Energy raised US$130 million in the only debt and public market financing deal of the quarter.

Q1 2015's top 5 VC-funded battery/storage companies, as highlighted by Mercom. Image: Mercom.

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