In August, Moixa was acquired by Lunar Energy, with its virtual power plant (VPP) software now set to help drive the rollout of domestic batteries across the US, Europe and Japan.
Lunar Energy – which is backed by large US residential solar installer Sunrun and by South Korea’s SK Group – will incorporate the software in its Lunar GridShare product.
To find out more about the agreement, what it means for Lunar and its plans moving forward, Current± spoke with Simon Daniel, former CEO of Moixa.
What sort of applications for GridShare made it and Moixa attractive for Lunar Energy?
We share very similar mindsets and very similar missions to really transition homes to 100% clean energy. We’ve been specialists in smart battery systems for over a decade and have run some of the earliest pilots. We launched smart batteries in homes before companies such as Tesla, so we have a lot of patents and experience in batteries.
Because we go deep into battery technology, our software is really, really good at managing battery assets and we found throughout our journey, particularly with the investments we had historically from companies like Honda and ITOCHU, is that they didn’t want to work with this sort of software only companies. Instead, they wanted to work with companies that understood their language and the technical challenges of batteries.
As a result, those companies looked all around the world, found Moixa and invested because we made systems that could run their battery systems. It’s about trusting us to control a third-party battery, such as the 35,000 batteries that are now in Japan – we had to be trusted to do that.
We then partnered with Lunar Energy, who are hardware experts in origin, and they had to decide to either build a battery, go into software, or do buy and partner with a company such as Moixa. Together we provide a lot of joint experience about taking hardware and software into homes to manage the clean energy transition.
Has Moixa pivoted away completely from making its own battery storage units to focus on the software side of things?
We’ve been shifting focus over many years to narrow down more on the software. Originally, we didn’t find the systems on the market, we had to engineer and make our own hardware to run our pilots. Over time our efforts to do that meant we could work with other companies who made their own hardware.
We aimed to partner with very big global companies who are involved in manufacturing and selling batteries and cars at scale. We have done this now through our partnership, and by being part of Lunar Energy, we’ve got an opportunity and the capital to really scale up integrated systems to the world. Our software will be used on Lunar’s own systems and will also continue to be used in other systems and vehicles around the world.
What are some of the differences between what GridShare has done for battery storage in the UK and in the 330MWh of deployments in Japan, to what you anticipate it can and will do in the US market?
Moixa has a lot of experience with deploying software to different energy regulatory requirements. We were able to enter Japan and become an industry leader in Japan. In a similar way with us now entering the US, we’ll have a leadership position.
When you move our software into different geographies and periods in time, you must be resilient. Our software can just adapt whereas other people might have to rebuild something. As the energy price today is set with a merit and marginal price, you must make a quick change to how things work.
We found some similarities between the European and Japanese markets, but also differences. For example, in the UK, batteries would be deployed for solar self-consumption. You want to use as much of your solar as possible by keeping it in your battery and then using that storage shifting energy to reduce your bills.
During covid people were suddenly working at home during the day and the energy makeup was different. You see that now in Europe with the very high peak prices and so you really don’t want to export energy, you want to keep it all to reduce buying back your own energy from the grid at a higher price.
In the US you have the Inflation Reduction Act and that’s going to create an incentive to store energy from the grid and do this peak shifting. A lot of the competitors don’t have the software experience to do that, because they’ve been making software to do solar storage in isolation, rather than grid management.
In these different regions, I think there’s sort of a similarity between UK and Japan – we’re both islands, 95% electricity is local, there are a few interconnects to nearby countries. Therefore, as both countries adopt more renewables, there’s more intermittent energy on the grid and it increases the importance to manage storage and reduce these peaks.
What is usually adopted in other countries, such as the UK, then makes its way to Japan. This can be the same as the US. We want to help cities and states go net zero.