Japan’s Tepco, Jera make US$32m investment in UK energy storage

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Zenobe battery energy storage site in the UK. Image: Zenobe.

UK battery storage firm Zenobe Energy has secured a £25 million (US$32.27 million) investment from Japanese power giants Jera and Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco).

The equity injection is not only one of the largest direct investments in a UK energy storage company, but also constitutes yet another move from Japan’s energy utilities into the UK power scene.

Zenobe, originally started up as Battery Energy Storage Solutions Ltd and then rebranded last year, said the equity injection would allow the firm to accelerate its energy storage rollout while also allowing it to expand into new markets.

The £25 million comes atop £45.5 million of equity already invested into Zenobe over the course of the last 18 months and a further £30 million of senior debt facilities provided by Santander and Generation IM.

That finance has powered Zenobe towards the forefront of energy storage development in the UK. The firm, which has around 73MW of operational storage assets, claimed an industry first last summer when it delivered more than 50MW of reserve power using National Grid’s new Ancillary Services Dispatch Platform.

Strategic investments, service offerings

It is now developing various new service offerings, which the company said would counter controversial charging reforms proposed by Ofgem, and is also providing flexible power solutions for electric bus depots, with an eye on expanding this offering to commercial EV operators.

Nicholas Beatty, co-founder at Zenobe, said the firm considered Jera and Tepco to be among the two “most significant strategic investors in the power sector”.

“They bring unique commercial and technical capabilities to Zenobe as well as unrivalled access to a global supply chain. This investment reinforces Zenobe’s reputation as an innovator in the energy market. Together, we’ll help energy intensive businesses use power intelligently to reduce costs, improve resilience and minimise environmental impact,” he said.

The partnership also furthers a trend for Japanese utilities to invest in cutting edge energy firms. In summer 2017 Tepco confirmed a £2.5 million in UK domestic storage specialist Moixa, followed less than six months later by major Japanese trading company Itochu.

Then in January last year Tepco also invested in UK-based blockchain start-up Electron in a bid to further its international reach.

Satoshi Yajima, senior VP of overseas business at Jera, paid testament to Zenobe’s track record in battery storage.

“We are delighted to be associated with the reputation and capabilities that Zenobe’s management team bring and therefore look forward to a fruitful strategic collaboration with Zenobe not just in the UK, but also in Japan, Asia and beyond,” he said.

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