The Energy Technologies Institute invested in Isentropic, an innovative UK SME set up to develop and demonstrate a cost-effective energy storage device that uses heated gravel as the energy storage medium as opposed to the more common but expensive battery based technologies.
This report summarises the main conclusions and outcomes of the project including the finding that it has potential for delivering innovative energy storage solutions. However, technical capability alone is insufficient to deliver innovative products to a commercial market which is still emerging. The current regulatory environment is failing to incentivise technologies that are not needed in the current energy system but have been clearly identified as crucial components of a future system.
Isentropic was one of many start-ups with a product with the technical potential to meet UK distributed storage needs but, like many others, they did not succeed in turning their innovative solution into a commercial product before the company ran out of funds – even with support from the ETI. They were faced with the major challenge of raising commercial funding for a research and development based proposition where market prospects for early returns were unclear. Developing other market opportunities may seem like an obvious approach to mitigate this risk but in itself brings the need to raise still more capital.
Following Isentropic’s administration, the ETI has invested further to ensure this promising technology is not lost. A new collaboration with a UK university is allowing the storage system development to complete but without the pressures of raising immediate commercial funding.