Tuesday, October 25, 2016

News: Cumulus boosts profile through Pitch@Palace

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Cumulus Energy Storage (CES), a high-tech start-up with a base on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, has taken part in a bootcamp as part of the Duke of York's Pitch@Palace initiative.

Cumulus is developing prototype battery technology which can be developed commercially to cope with the rigours and requirements of the renewable industry. Storing the electricity from intermittent energy sources such as wind and solar at source, or "grid level," is a key problem due to the mismatch between the availability of intermittent wind or sunshine and the changing demand for grid electricity.

Cumulus is developing a grid-level energy storage battery with 1MWh-100MWh storage capacity which it hopes to be the lowest cost battery technology in the world. By using its new batteries, developers of offshore wind farms or solar farms could reduce the price at which electricity must be generated from the source to break even over the lifetime of the project.

With research in San Francisco and manufacturing in South Yorkshire, Cumulus was one of 19 projects to secure funding from the Government's Energy Entrepreneurs' Fund (EEF) that was established in 2012 to help bring a range of new and innovative low carbon products to market.

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In less than three years Pitch@Palace has helped over 200 businesses grow, with some now enjoying huge global success. This year's event focuses on technology and HRH has been touring the country looking for firms. The first event was hosted at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre with Boeing's (AMRC's) Factory 2050 building on the Sheffield Business Park in September.

Pitch@Palace was set up by The Duke of York's Charitable Trust to support start-up businesses and entrepreneurs in the UK. It gives potential entrepreneurs the chance to explain their hi-tech business ideas to Prince Andrew and a panel of experts, in front of an audience of investors, business leaders and mentors, in a bid to secure the backing they need to take them to the next level.

CEO Nick Kitchen pitched at the Sheffield event and Cumulus was one of 42 entrepreneurial companies selected to attend a boot camp where participants heard from industry experts and Pitch@Palace Alumni, and received support and mentoring. Having missed out on being one of the 15 that will go forward to pitch at St. James's Palace in November, Cumulus is now in contention for the "People's Choice" award - an opportunity for the public to vote for their favourite Pitch@Palace entrepreneur.

Nick Kitchen, CEO at Cumulus (pictured), said: "Last year, the National Grid paid £90m to wind farm operators to not generate electricity. The reason for this is that the grid isn't designed to cope with variable and intermittent electricity that is generated by renewables. It needs a buffer, which needs to be used when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining, to store that electricity and deliver it later at the time that its needed - this is what Cumulus Energy Storage does.

"At the moment the main buffer is pumped hydro - two reservoirs that are geographically constrained - hence the need for our very flexible battery - copper / zinc super storage - that we can position anywhere we like in the electricity network.

"We have a very experience management team and we have ten people in San Francisco, six in the UK, and we are currently raising £4m for product development with a pilot line set for 2017."

A 20kWh operational prototype is being developed in the company's labs in San Francisco and in the UK, Cumulus has established a "customer interest group" with the likes of E.ON, National Grid, Sheffield Forgemasters and Sheffield University.

The plan is to manufacture the super-storage battery units in the Sheffield city region, on or near the AMP where Cumulus is based.

Cumulus Energy Storage website
Pitch@Palace website

Images: Pitch@Palace


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