Moixa - Managing battery storage

By Pilgrim - April 12, 2022

In this Smart Energy People podcast, Simon Daniel, co-founder of innovative home battery pioneer Moixa joins DevicePilot CEO Pilgrim Beart to discuss:

  • The founding story - started 15 years ago
  • Intelligent charging around solar and tariffs
  • How to aggregate lots of batteries into a grid-scale battery
  • Managing more than 30k homes in Japan and Honda EVs in Europe
  • Japan and UK are similar in energy transition (islands with 95% local generation, increasingly intermittent renewables, deregulation)
  • Every city wants to be a net zero island e.g. Illinois
  • Early battery technologies tested in Hawaii - easier regulation
  • Corporate venturing: being the 'trim-tab' for $50bn channel partners
  • Lessons learned about dancing with big partners Japanese very strategic and pragmatic, foreign companies have to have local partner
  • COP - need to get the people who can change the world into the debate
  • Energy storage VPP prototype back in 2012
  • What would you have done differently, blind alleys, lessons learned, insights.
  • Transition from hardware-centric to software-centric (but still need hardware to be reliable)
  • Innovation is like comedy - timing important, need to set up the context first.
  • Financing needs to hit sweet spot between investors getting it and customers needing it. To be truly innovative and get a patent requires you to be early.
  • Arrival of competitors like Tesla very helpful, SPACs with companies raising $100ms. World is late on this. Joining everything up.
  • Technical standards.
  • Typical home over the next 5 years. Will battery storage hit mainstream? What else is going to be in the ecosystem?
  • Bill shock. Transition will be difficult. Electrification of homes is a good way to decarbonise, but needs storage.
  • Utilities used to set 30y power purchase agreements. Now can't even do 5y. Might not even be allowed to buy high-carbon sources.
  • World still growing - a France-worth of people every year. Solar is a great starting point, and now very affordable, but storage (home battery and/or EV) is the missing link to make intermittent renewables shift to the evening to avoid peak pricing. Efficiency important too, esp. insulation. In developing countries now cheaper to deploy solar and storage than a grid.
  • Home energy products need to have a long lifespan, but keep up with fast-changing standards.
  • Need to know the future to use batteries well. Can predict the short term fairly well. Micro-forecasting. Tariff forecasting. Consumption forecasting.
  • ML to optimise battery storage and EV charging over 24-48h. Optimise for resilience (storms), or carbon, or price.
  • Also works for retailers - they need to manage wholesale price else go bust.
  • Short-term trading and long-term trends e.g. gas prices. Batteries can "fix" an imbalance charge. Being part of a collective. Virtuous circle.
  • Use connectivity well. IoT - 100bn things, half are fast-moving disposable things like phones, rest are physical products which will be there for decades.
  • Security standards. Harder to manage things which are persistent. Sonos speakers over 5y old fall behind standards.
  • Need to deliver reliability over time with low service costs.
  • Early-adopters like tinkering, but late adopters have neither the knowledge or time. It must "just work". How will batteries be sold to live up to that? Sold by e.g. utilities? How to afford?
  • Software to manage batteries is portable across a range of batteries - from home to EV to grid.
  • Gain trust of consumer, then automate. Individuals might get highly-engaged and want real-time displays (RTDs), but after a while RTD stands for "return to drawer" so need to get engaged, build trust and move to automation.
  • Concerns over trusting AI or 3rd parties to manage.
  • Will I buy a battery as a capital asset? Will I buy a service to manage it separately? Will it come all wrapped-together from my utility?
  • Towards heating-as-a-service. A centralised operator can manage things more efficiently.
  • Paul Nash and game theory - if you each compete for the prize you get a worse outcome than collaborating: customer with grid with utility. Within a home you can only make localised decisions - can't see e.g. future price contracts.
  • Today's grid is about managing down peaks, but perfect future grid is perfectly flat with no price variation.
  • 10GWh of batteries in UK EVs today - a bit bigger than pumped storage. Will end up with 800GWh. Costing $10bns of chemistry, multiple nuclear power plants, balanced to keep carbon down. Ultimately utility companies will be better at predicting the future.
  • As a consumer, if you buy these products it is an investment with a return - go "off bill". But need lots of capital to do that, so there's a funding model. Making smart energy fundable.
  • Batteries more complex than PV because needs online management.
  • US FERC net metering rules.
  • UK regulation rewards for maximising solar self-consumption. Japanese regulation rewards homes for exporting solar energy during the day.
  • Overall cost of household energy is very expensive. "Net zero pensions". Might need a £50k lump sum to buy an annuity to buy energy through retirement. Prices rising, so now you might need £100k.
  • Spending a few £1k on a battery, or buying an EV, suddenly makes a lot of sense. Tesla as a retirement choice!
  • Govt looking at energy pricing in state pension.
  • Finally - a tour of Simon's own home: battery storage in his garage, 5kWh battery plus inverter and smart meter connected to 5kW of PV, plus EV.



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