The Anonymous Widower

Cheesecake Energy Secures £1M Seed Investment

The title of this post, is the same as that of this Press Release from Cheesecake Energy.

This is the first paragraph.

Cheesecake Energy Ltd (CEL), a Nottingham, UK-based energy storage startup today announced it has raised £1M in Seed funding to fuel the development of its manufacturing capabilities and support product development of its eTanker storage system. The round was led by Imperial College Innovation Fund alongside prominent investors including Perivoli Innovations, former Jaguar Chairman, Sir John Egan and other angel investors.

And the third and fourth paragraphs describe the technology.

The company’s unique technology, dubbed eTanker, takes established compressed air energy storage concepts and revolutionises them by storing two-thirds of the electricity in the form of heat which can be stored at far lower cost. To store the energy, electric motors are used to drive compressors, which deliver high pressure air & heat into storage units. When the electricity is required, the high-pressure air and heat is passed back through the same compressor (but now working as a turbine), which turns a generator to produce electricity. The company believes its system will cut the cost of storing energy by 30-40% and offers a solution that can be used in several sectors including electric vehicle (EV) charging, heavy industry and renewable energy generation.

The startup has filed 10 patents for stationary, medium-long-duration, long-lifetime energy storage technology. It is based on innovative design work by CEL, a spin-out from over a decade of research at University of Nottingham. Employing circular economy principles, truck engines are converted into zero-emission electrical power-conversion machines for putting energy into and out of storage. Its technology brings together the low cost of thermal storage, the turnaround efficiencies of compressed air energy storage, together with the long life and robustness of a mechanical system, making a game-changing technology in a modular containerised package.

It all sounds feasible to me and if I’d have been asked, I’d have chipped in some of my pension.

The system in some ways can almost be considered a hybrid system that merges some of the principles of Highview Power’s CRYOBattery and Siemens Gamesa’s ETES system of heating large quantity of rock. Although, Cheesecake’s main storage medium is comptressed air, as opposed to the liquid air of the CRYOBattery.

One market they are targeting is the charging of fleets of electric vehicles like buses and from tales I have heard about operators of large numbers of electric buses, this could be a valuable market.

I also noted that the Press Release mentions a National Grid report, that says we will need 23 GW of energy storage by 2030. Assuming we will need to store enough electricity to provide 23 GW for five hours, that will be 115 GWh of energy storage.

At present, pumped storage is the only proven way of storing tens of GWh of energy. In 1984, after ten years of construction, Dinorwig power station (Electric Mountain) opened to provide 9.1 GWh of storage with an output of 1.8 GW.

So ideally we will need another thirteen Electric Mountains. But we don’t have the geography for conventional pumped storage! And as Electric Mountain showed, pumped storage systems are like Rome and can’t be built in a day.

Energy storage funds, like Gresham House and Gore Street are adding a large number of lithium-ion batteries to the grid, but they will only be scratching the surface of the massive amount of storage needed.

Note that at the end of 2020, Gresham House Energy Storage Fund had a fleet of 380 MWh of batteries under management, which was an increase of 200 MWh on 2019. At this rate of growth, this one fund will add 2GWh of storage by 2030. But I estimate we need 115 GWh based on National Grid’s figures.

So I can see a small number of GWh provided by the likes of Gresham House, Gore Street and other City funds going the same route.

But what these energy storage funds have proved, is that you have reliable energy storage technology, you can attract serious investment for those with millions in the piggy-bank.

I believe the outlook for energy storage will change, when a technology or engineering company proves they have a battery with a capacity of upwards of 250 MWh, with an output of 50 MW, that works reliably twenty-four hours per day and seven days per week.

I believe that if these systems are as reliable as lithium-ion, I can see no reason why City and savvy private investors money will not fund these new technology batteries, as the returns will be better than putting the money in a deposit account, with even the most reputable of banks.

At the present time, I would rate Highview Power’s CRYOBattery and Siemens Gamesa’s ETES system as the only two battery systems anywhere near to a reliable investment, that is as safe as lithium-ion batteries.

  • Both score high on being environmentally-friendly.
  • Both rely on techniques, proven over many years.
  • Both don’t need massive sites.
  • Both systems can probably be maintained and serviced in nearly all places in the world.
  • Highview Power have sold nearly a dozen systems.
  • Highview Power are building a 50 MW/250 MWh plant in Manchester.
  • Siemens Gamesa are one of the leaders in renewable energy.
  • Siemens Gamesa have what I estimate is a 130 MWh pilot plant working in Hamburg, which I wrote about in Siemens Gamesa Begins Operation Of Its Innovative Electrothermal Energy Storage System.

Other companies are also targeting this market between lithium-ion and pumped storage. Cheesecake Energy is one of them.

I believe they could be one of the winners, as they have designed a system, that stores both compressed air and the heat generated in compressing it. Simple but efficient.

I estimate that of the 115 GWh of energy storage we need before 2030, that up to 5 GWh could be provided by lithium-ion, based on the growth of installations over the last few years.

So we will need another 110 GWh of storage.

Based on  50 MW/250 MWh systems, that means we will need around 440 storage batteries of this size.

This picture from a Google Map shows Siemens Gamesa’s pilot plant in Hamburg.

I estimate that this plant is around 130 MWh of storage and occupies a site of about a football pitch, which is one hectare.

I know farmers in Suffolk, who own more land to grow wheat, than would be needed to accommodate all the batteries required.


I believe that National Grid will get their 23 GW of energy storage.



September 28, 2021 - Posted by | Energy Storage | , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. > the Press Release mentions a National Grid report, that says we will need 23 GW of energy storage by 2030. Assuming we will need to store enough electricity to provide 23 GW for five hours, that will be 115 GWh of energy storage.

    hm. They’re misquoting the NES report, and you’re misquoting them! If you’ve not seen the latest version, it’s very definitely worth a read. The summary is at Page 7 summarises the basic assumptions, with total storage capacity, currently 4GW, forecast to range from 8-18GW by 2030, and 24-63GW by 2050, depending on the 4 chosen scenarios. They also list V2G storage, which should be substantial by 2050. They don’t list residential and business storage, which I reckon could and should be substantial too. IMHO, all buildings should have some sort of solar+storage. If this is all grid-connected, and managed by clever software to aggregate power as needed, the total amount of grid-scale storage can be substantially less.

    At the top of p5, they rightly say: “However, the whole energy system of the future will be based more around supply, with demand adjusting to use or store energy as required” and also “The importance of flexibility increases with electrification in all scenarios”. Storage provides this flexibility. I would question some of their assumptions, but it’s essential that they do this kind of exercise and present policy-makers with choices: spend this much, and you get these benefits in the future.

    Comment by Peter Robins | September 28, 2021 | Reply

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