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14 November 2019

Moixa plugs away, passes 10k batteries in 100 MWh Japanese fleet

Moixa has announced that its deployment with Japanese conglomerate ITOCHU has passed 10,000 installed batteries, with Moixa saying that its GridShare system is now managing 100 MWh of battery capacity in the country. Reaching this threshold within a year, Moixa is very pleased with itself, and believes this is the largest such deployment in the world.

ITOCHU now believes it has over 20% of the Japanese market for home battery storage. The firm, which is also an investor in Moixa, posted annual revenues of $51.8bn in 2018, and has major business groups covering: Textiles; Machinery; Metals and Minerals; Energy and Chemicals; and Food; ICT, General Products and Realty. The battery projects fall under the Energy and Chemicals remit, a division that posted $14.8bn revenue in 2018, and profits of $1.9bn.

“Our customers are getting extra value from their batteries with Moixa’s GridShare software. It’s enabling them to maximize their solar resources and prepare for weather risk,” said Koji Hasegawa, GM of ITOCHU’s Industrial Chemicals Department.

ITOCHU invested in Moixa back in January 2018, putting £5mn into the company in a corporate round. In May 2019, Honda was the lead investor in an £8.6mn round, in which ITOCHU, First Imagine Ventures, and Contrarian Ventures were also involved.

Honda also picked Moixa as its European smart charging partner, and will be using the startup to integrate its upcoming EV offerings into European energy grids. The pair will launch this ‘energy management solutions business’ in 2020, target EV customers and power system operators, looking to grab a good share of the expected 1.5mn EVs on European roads by 2025, growing from 2% to 9% of the total, apparently.

Back in May, Moixa said it managed around 7,000 battery systems in the UK and Japan, accounting for around 70 MWh of capacity. Now, Moixa says 10,000 systems in Japan account for that 100 MWh of capacity, but it has not updated the world on the total portfolio.

At the time, Moixa CEO Simon Daniel, said “Japan and the UK are both energy islands, producing the majority of their electricity locally. Japanese companies recognize our expertise in managing large fleets of batteries and aggregating their spare capacity to help the grid accommodate large swings in solar and wind generation and growth in EV charging. We plan to expand into other countries, helping them manage the transition to a low-carbon and cost-effective energy system.”

So, Moixa has found a niche of sorts, but it wants to become a major player in the storage sector. Using these batteries, it creates aggregated Virtual Power Plants (VPPs), which are connected via its cloud platform and then controlled in a coordinated fashion, which allows Moixa to provide grid-scale services to (and for) energy companies.

A lot of data is involved in this process, and in time, more devices will need to be incorporated into ecosystems like Moixa’s. In the short term, the home batteries, the EVs, and any DER options at the home need to all be connected to each other, and Moixa does this via cloud-based backend configurations. But as more smart home devices are installed, the portfolio of equipment that a company like Moixa can take advantage of increases – but so do the number of logistical headaches that need to be solved.

Once all the connections are made, Moixa also has to manage the planning process for all these units, working out when it is best to charge and discharge the batteries, according to local energy market availability. This involves a shed-load of analytics, to calculate each battery’s optimal schedule, and to date, Moixa says it has gathered and analyzed some 50 TB of data on ‘household consumption, generation patterns, weather predictions, energy tariff costs, battery performance and savings, enabling increasingly accurate predictions and improved battery optimization.’ Again, Moixa thinks this is more than any other company has done.

“We want to accelerate the global transition to a zero-carbon energy system. Smart charging of batteries in homes and electric vehicles provides the critical tool to help achieve decarbonization by storing and shifting solar and wind-resources. At the same time, it helps save money for consumers and reduce infrastructure cost,” said Moixa CEO Simon Daniel.

We first covered Moixa back in June 2016, when it announced a trial with Scottish Power that was the largest home storage trial in the UK. In January 2017, it deployed 40 batteries in the village of Oxspring, with Northern Powergrid, again exploring VPP opportunities. In March, it partnered with Hitachi, to deploy a V2G VPP in the Isles of Scilly.

A funding round in June 2017 saw Tokyo Electric Power Corp. (TEPCO) sign up, and in January 2018, the first partnership with ITOCHU was announced, following its investment. ITOCHU said it would have installed 6,000 of its Smart Start home batteries by March 2018, and would be using Moixa’s GridShare platform to manage them.

In the announcement, Moixa noted that Japan had over 125,000 home energy storage systems in 2016, and the Moixa and ITOCHU believe this number will pass 500,000 by 2020. In October 2018, the two investors announced a partnership, where ITOCHU and TEPCO-subsidiary Trende would be offering a new ‘smart tariff’ that would provide variable pricing that could be used by Moixa’s GridShare. At the time, Moixa was talking about managing 3,500 homes in Japan, and 35 MWh of capacity.

So, in the past year or so, Moixa seems to have jumped from 3,500 homes and 35 MWh of capacity to 10,000 and 100 MWh respectively – up around 286%. That is certainly an impressive achievement, but Moixa can not rest on its laurels. It has major rivals in the way of Tesla and Sonnen, the latter of which is now owned by Shell. Both are aggressively pushing in-home storage and solar panel combinations, and both have stronger brand recognition in the consumer space. However, utility partnerships are likely going to be the kingmakers in this sector, and Moixa has already got that ball rolling.