3 min read
On June 28th, for the second episode of B Current Fusion Talks: Climate Tech Innovation Track, B Current invited Aaron Fyke, Founder and Managing Partner at Thin Line Capital, Dr. Eli Leland, CTO and Co-Founder at Voltaiq, and Dr. Hong-Tzer Yang, Distinguished Professor at Department of Electrical Engineering, National Cheng Kung University, to join the panel discussion. Lawrence Yen, Founding Partner at MIH ESG Impact Venture Capital, was the host.
“All energy has four pillars: generations, storage, distribution, and consumption,” said Chih-Kai (CK) Cheng, Chair at B Current Impact Investment. “We need efficient energy storage solution to smooth out peak and valley of energy consumption and generation. And we need smart grids to distribute energy intelligently. B Current hopes to explore solutions with our distinguished panelists”.
Innovations and developments in Energy Storage and Smart Grid
Aaron Fyke shared that according to Energy Storage Association (ESA) data, the difference between average power consumption and peak power consumption, or the spread from the demand side, has been continually increasing. He stated that there is potential in demand response, shaping the demand side to match the supply availability. For example, software products allow us to control remotely and charge electric vehicles when the power is available.
Eli Leland stated that it requires multiple test processes throughout the development of a new battery, from research and development of materials to product design and manufacturing. Under a carefully controlled environment, we could obtain key statistics such as energy/power density, fast charge performance, cycle life, safety, and cost. Voltaiq automatically collects data from the test processes, allowing comparisons between different generations of technologies and battery products, helping customers develop battery products more efficiently.
Dr. Yang shared that the Ministry of Economic Affairs in Taiwan has announced the High Electricity User Clause, requiring large power users to boost their use of renewable energy, including installing energy storage solutions. As for the smart grid sector, State-run Taipower inaugurated an Energy Trading Platform (ETP) for open transactions of day-ahead electricity ancillary services. It is expected that the bidding would become more intense as the market expands.
Opportunities and challenges in Energy Storage and Smart Grid
Aaron Fyke pointed out that besides direct investments in energy storage technologies; companies that play supporting roles in the ecosystem enjoy high growth potential. For example, Voltaiq provides software analysis services in the battery industry chain, or another startup Kevala utilizes data analytics to predict and plan for more robust grids. He also believed that hydrogen and gravity energy storage devices have promising potential.
Eli Leland stated that Volatiq would continue to focus on the electric vehicle market and convince the traditional auto industry to utilize data analytics to create business value. At the same time, he believed that the battery industry does not need to wait for a technological breakthrough. The industry needs to establish a better business model and help the world move towards energy transition.
Finally, Dr. Yang suggested that the electricity price in Taiwan is still low, and the price difference between peaks and valleys is not enough to provide strong incentives for us to adopt energy storage devices and smart grids. In addition, the demand for energy storage systems is expected to grow as the electricity trading market expands. We need to find affordable energy storage to meet the foreseeable strong demand.
About B Current Impact Investment
B Current Impact Investment is the first impact fund in Taiwan, launched in 2014 through a club funding approach – by invitation only with an equal amount per investor per capital call. It aims to invest in early-stage impact-driven businesses that focus on sustainability, healthcare, education, and regional revitalization, aligning with the SDGs. It serves as a bridge between social entrepreneurs and HNWI/ESG investors and a platform to fill the impact investing ecosystem gap by connecting financial, human, intellectual, and social capital. In 2022, B Current managed 5 impact funds by nearly 90 investors and invested in over 15 start-ups.