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Mercom: Utilities, oil and gas majors pump investment into battery storage

A Zenobe Energy project in Kent, England. Image: Zenobe Energy.

UK battery project developer Zenobe Energy was the biggest recipient of corporate and venture capital (VC) funding in the energy storage sector in the first quarter of 2019, according to Mercom Capital.

Mercom issues quarterly reports on M&A and other funding activity in the battery storage, smart grid and energy efficiency sectors. The company’s report on Q1 2019 said that overall, investment in the combined sectors was down from the US$472 million raised in Q1 2018, standing at US$210 million in the quarter just gone.

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As reported by in February, Zenobe raised £25 million (US$32 million) in investment from Japanese power giants Jera and Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco). 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 equity injection is not only one of the largest direct investments in a UK energy storage company, but also constituted yet another move from Japan’s energy utilities into the UK power scene, following investment in a number of other providers including home energy storage company Moixa.

Behind Zenobe in the top three for the quarter just gone were Sunfire, a German company focused on hydrogen electrolysis using steam, powered by renewable energy, netting US$29 million, and Ambri, a startup spun out of MIT’s labs – much like 24M – that is developing a liquid metal battery, which received around US$17 million.

Along with TEPCO, Mercom named other major utilities and companies with a background in oil and gas as investors in the battery storage sector during the quarter: Shell Ventures (which has recently acquired Sonnen and a number of other cleantech companies spanning electric vehicles, aggregators and more), Total Energy Ventures, Chevron Technology Ventures and Centrica.

There were nine corporate funding deals across battery storage in Q1 2019, for a total of US$130 million, compared to US$110 million invested in the previous quarter across 13 deals.

Zenobe Energy's Steve Meersman was among the attendees of the Energy Storage Summit 2019 in London which took place in February, appearing on camera in a series of exclusive video interviews taken at the event

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