The Business

Energy Storage Products Pty Ltd (ESP) is a wholesaler of power and energy storage systems for residential and commercial installations that source energy from renewables (i.e. sun, wind, tidal and geothermal). The Company’s energy and power systems are versatile and scalable. All of the Company’s products are aimed at the wholesale market. As well as its products, the Company provides consulting and training services to installers of its products in the retail sector.

ESP is engaged in the electricity market with generation/storage products that supply reliable and competitively priced electricity to residential and commercial customers. In South Australia the government is trialling a network of similar products to operate as a virtual power plant. The economics and scalability of the virtual power plant addresses the biggest issues for renewables energy – intermittent supply – thereby facilitating major growth of low cost energy, derived from renewables. ESP with its product range is positioned to benefit in any advances made in this technological transformation.

Revenue targets

In the first instance the Company will generate income through the supply of its products to installers and contractors in Australia and internationally.

ESP can also partner with aggregators and participate in the operation of virtual power plants. In such circumstances ESP can derive income from revenue generating structures with customers and aggregators as follows; direct sales, hardware as a service (HaaS) and lease purchase plan; special purpose vehicles (SPV) and joint ventures (JV); operation and maintenance (O&M); training and consulting services. The Company will actively seek opportunities in these areas as the evolution of the smarter grid matures.

In the long term the Company will develop new products such as the hemp supercapacitor battery and transition into an incubator.

Production and assembly facility

ESP is adapting PV generators and super capacitors in innovative ways to improve its products. Such innovations take place across a range of production steps, including: development necessary to scale the product configuration; design of the system; fabrication of the cabinets and assistance with on-site assembly that supplies a high value product that integrates into evolving smart energy grids. As well as benefiting the individual customer, this optimises the supply/demand balance and in this way meets crucial market demand for low-cost, residential/commercial/industrial storage.

Inventory for the manufacture and assembly of the ESP products is sourced from local, national and international suppliers.

Benefits of the technology

New technologies in the electricity sector have the potential of rendering consumers energy self-sufficient. Therefore some of the residential and commercial consumers are likely to defect entirely from the grid. Grid architecture is also changing with a common coupling of residential consumers to form micro and mini grids. The common coupling of micro grids to the main grid forming a virtual power plant will allow for both generation and demand to be coordinated and managed. Navigant Research has forecast the micro grid market to reach as high as US$40 billion in the US by 2020. Australia will not be immune from this technological revolution.

In summary, the ESP range of products when paired with renewables provide multiple benefits when integrated into electricity grids, whether networks, mini, micro or off grid. The virtual power plant provides flexible generation that can be dispatched, as needed, to meet electricity demand and other ancillary services. The virtual power plant is scalable through aggregation of many units for integration with any large-scale renewables that are available in the system. This provides carbon free electricity and puts downward pressure on prices due to its zero fuel cost. The virtual power plant also provides many additional benefits, which include: locational balancing; peak shaving and shifting; congestion relief; facilitation of demand management techniques; deferral of asset augmentation; and stabilising response in case of system disturbance (e.g. generator failure, transmission network outage, etc.).

Competing technologies

The fundamental role for electricity storage in the on and off grid residential and commercial sector in the emerging smarter networks means that the demand for generation/storage will increase over the next two decades, particularly as the cost of renewables continues to decrease. The net effect is a reduced reliance on fossil fuels. As a consequence, the energy storage market is expected to experience strong growth in electro-mechanical technologies. The ESP products will enable more renewables with zero fuel cost to be deployed thus driving down energy prices. This will mean a growing industry serviced by specialised providers like ESP. The Company will have to compete with other players and consistently deliver on quality, cost and timeliness.

Engaging with the market

ESP markets and distributes its products through multiple distribution channels. Current marketing efforts are focused on building brand and product awareness through publicity, online media and strategic networking with key influencers (i.e. contractors and installers active in the retail sector of the market). This can result in the development of strategic partnerships and opportunities.

Overview of products/services

ESP stocks photovoltaic (PV) panels and all of the associated equipment (e.g. inverters, railings, electrical cables, incidentals, etc.) which are intended to provide affordable and reliable renewables electricity for residential and commercial customers. The Company also couples these PV panels to storage technologies such as super capacitors and manufactures the cabinets housing the storage products. The Company’s devices are versatile and scalable and form the basis for aggregating to a virtual power plant. The Company has multiple designs based on super capacitor/battery storage technology.

The Company  also provides consulting services for tailored package systems that may contain a suite of technologies such as wind, solar and various types of storage (e.g. pumped hydro, lithium ion batteries, super capacitors, energy outputs in the form of heat for industrial clients, etc.) As well as this the Company provides training courses for installers at both the accredited and unaccredited levels and will be licensed as a Registered Training Organisation (RTO).

Path to market

The path to market will vary depending on the type and location of the installation (i.e. residential, commercial site specific, size of virtual power plant, etc.). Given the stage of ESP’s development, securing key partnerships with aggregators and others with complementary attributes allows ESP to remain focused on its core business of developing and supplying its products to installers active in the retail sector of the market. Leads generated directly by the Company will be assessed and largely passed to installers/aggregators for integration into the market. In summary the path to market strategy assumes the following steps:

  • Cold calls to a list of accredited installers that has been put together over time by the Company;
  • Networking with people in the industry who are engaged in contracting and installing the types of products handled by ESP;
  • Engagement with new entrants to the industry (e.g. course students who design and install the types of products handled by ESP and who are looking to buy this type of equipment to meet their own contract obligations); and
  • Others in the wholesale sector of the market such as bulk wholesalers, aggregators and professional engineers.

ESP customers

ESP delivers solutions for off and on grid electricity generation and storage. Customers for grid applications and large commercial developments will attract aggregators looking for products that have the characteristics of scalability, low cost and flexibility of location. The Company’s near term customers are all residential and commercial consumers of electricity.

Each installation will be carried out by an accredited installer. A common milestone driven development approach will be applied across the installations that: builds, commissions, and maintains the products. Operation of the aggregated products as a virtual power plant will be undertaken by an aggregator or distribution network service provider such as SA Power Networks.

ESP will retain technical control over its products via on‑going product improvement, cost reduction, enhanced system scalability and aggregation measures as a key element in customer management, of which is the operation of the devices as a virtual power plant. This allows for characterisation of efficiencies and operational performance that benefit the customer.

Business development

ESP promotes its products by engaging with electricity consumers in actively exploring the market for its products using its people, who have the technical background and skills to ascertain the requirements of potential customers and who are able to do the ‘feasibility of integration’ study of the technology into the client site.

Some of these potential clients approach ESP directly after having seen articles on ESP in print media advertising, online advertising, mail-out, giveaway, media release, social media campaign and events such as conferences and exhibitions. Others are contacted directly by the Company’s directors and employees or are introduced by ESP business collaborators.

Cost structure

The site installer and ESP will enter into a commercial agreement for the continued lease/sale of the ESP products and associated maintenance agreements on commercial terms at the site. In parallel with the installations, ongoing development work will continue to develop new technology for the virtual power plant and optimisation aimed at substantial cost reduction for materials and manufacture and site integration and operation.

Business processes

Much of componentry and materials that make up the ESP solution is of a specialist nature that can be bought off the shelf. However some items may not be readily sourced in Australia (e.g. super capacitors) or may be of a quality and design that is not suitable for the ESP product. ESP therefore undertakes a thorough technical and sourcing decision analysis for each site and each product that it assembles. As the Company gains traction in the market, it may become feasible to produce some of the componentry locally and gain cost reduction and efficiency benefits.

The team

ESP recognises and understands the integral part that employees and contractors play in its business success. The Company aims to provide a healthy and successful workplace that encourages personal development, health and well-being alongside sales, business and operational results. The Company recognises that, given the early stage in its organisational development, it has particular dependencies on its two directors, including key analysts and other specialised staff.

ESP executives

ESP is currently managed by two Executives who possess a broad range of technical, commercial and financial skills as briefly set out below. Each of the Executives will commit the equivalent of 75% FTE in the first year of the Company’s operation to ensure that the Company benefits from their long and pertinent experience in the type of undertakings that the Company will be involved in.

Support team

Current staff including contractors, all have significant experience in their areas of expertise, some of whom have been involved from the outset in the evolution of the energy transformation now taking place with the advent of the prosumer and the smart grid.

Energy & Power Systems is currently a registered supplier to the Department of Defence.

As ESP transitions from a start-up company focussing on energy and power systems in the new energy space to one involved in supplying energy systems packages it will require further staff. In the first year of the Company’s operations this staff is likely to comprise a product sales/administration/store manager, receptionist and fork lift driver, all employed on a FTE basis.

Required staff will be recruited through a process of advertising on the ESP web site, advertising in relevant journals and newspapers, professional social media networks, word of mouth and graduate selection.

As ESP works in the specialised area of energy and power systems, the training programs for specific technical skills will have to be developed and delivered in house by Peter Cockburn who is an accredited trainer. More general programs such as in the areas of marketing and product development will be offered either in house or through specialist providers drawn from academia or from the pool of experts in their fields.

The Company seeks to retain key personnel by offering attractive remuneration packages, including the potential to participate in a company performance rights plan. The Company will actively develop succession strategies for key positions, including those of the current Executives.

Innovation and job creation

ESP maintains its competitive advantage by continuing to build its intellectual property (IP) through in-house research and analysis into novel energy systems that make use of off the shelf components (i.e. renewables generation sources such as PV, wind, hydro and storage sources such as super capacitors, batteries and phase change materials). Expenditure during the research phase is recognised as an expense when incurred. Development costs will be capitalised only when technical feasibility studies identify that a project will deliver future economic benefits and that these benefits can be measured reliably.

ESP owns the technical documentation that contains the results from its research and analysis of its package generation/storage systems and designs in respect of the various products that it stocks or sources. It will also exclusively own technical documentation generated as part of the commercial demonstration units that are to be supplied, constructed and installed for specific clients. ESP’s corporate value is linked to value of its IP portfolio. IP management is therefore central to the Company’s business strategy. Robust IP management provides ESP with a sustainable competitive advantage and the Company will build on its trade secrets to maintain protection of its IP.

In keeping specialised production and assembly jobs in South Australia and creating new positions, ESP can make use of skills that are available in the state. Many of these skills have been practiced in the car manufacturing sector, which used to be a major employer of South Australians. This benefits the Government of South Australia and ESP in that these skills can be put to good use for a product that positively changes the global electricity landscape.

R&D Incubator

Hemp is an incredibly versatile crop. Not only can it be used for industrial purposes, clothing, food, and paper, but new research suggests hemp batteries are even more powerful than lithium and graphene (

The experiment was conducted by Robert Murray Smith and was discussed on his relatively popular YouTube channel. Smith began by observing a Volts by Amps curve of both the hemp and lithium batteries. Surprisingly, the power underneath the hemp cell was a value of 31 while that of the lithium cell had a value of just 4.

The results of the experiment simply show the performance of the hemp cell is “significantly better” than the lithium cell.

This discovery isn’t new. In 2014, researchers in the US found that waste fibers — “shiv” — from hemp crops can be transformed into “ultrafast” super capacitors that are “better than graphene.”  Graphene is a unique synthetic carbon material that is lighter than foil, as well as bulletproof. The main limit to using it is feasibility. Fortunately, hemp costs one-thousandth of the price of graphene.

In the 2014 experiment, the team, led by Dr David Mitlin of Clarkson University, New York, “cooked” leftover bast fibre — the inner bark of the plant that typically ends up in landfills — into carbon nanosheets. The process is called hydrothermal synthesis. D OUTORE >

The fibers were then recycled into supercapacitors, or energy storage devices which have changed the way electronics are powered. Conventional batteries store large reservoirs of energy and drip-feed. Supercapacitors, on the other hand, rapidly discharge their entire load. As a result, the latter is ideal in machines that require sharp bursts of power.

According to Mitlin, “you can do really interesting things with bio-waste”. With banana peels, for instance, “you can turn them into a dense block of carbon – we call it pseudo-graphite – and that’s great for sodium-ion batteries. But if you look at hemp fibre its structure is the opposite – it makes sheets with high surface area – and that’s very conducive to supercapacitors.”

After the bark has been cooked, “you dissolve the lignin and the semicellulose, and it leaves these carbon nanosheets – a pseudo-graphene structure.” The resulting supercapacitors operate at a broad range of temperatures and a high energy density.

A supercapacitor (SC), also called an ultracapacitor, is a high-capacity capacitor with a capacitance value much higher than other capacitors, but with lower voltage limits, that bridges the gap between electrolytic capacitors and rechargeable batteries. It typically stores 10 to 100 times more energy per unit volume or mass than electrolytic capacitors, can accept and deliver charge much faster than batteries, and tolerates many more charge and discharge cycles than rechargeable batteries.

Supercapacitors are used in applications requiring many rapid charge/discharge cycles, rather than long term compact energy storage — in automobiles, buses, trains, cranes and elevators, where they are used for regenerative braking, short-term energy storage, or burst-mode power delivery.[2] Smaller units are used as memory backup for static random-access memory (SRAM).

Unlike ordinary capacitors, supercapacitors do not use the conventional solid dielectric, but rather, they use electrostatic double-layer capacitance and electrochemical pseudocapacitance,[3] both of which contribute to the total capacitance of the capacitor, with a few differences:

The electrolyte forms an ionic conductive connection between the two electrodes which distinguishes them from conventional electrolytic capacitors where a dielectric layer always exists, and the so-called electrolyte, e.g., MnO2 or conducting polymer, is in fact part of the second electrode (the cathode, or more correctly the positive electrode). Supercapacitors are polarized by design with asymmetric electrodes, or, for symmetric electrodes, by a potential applied during manufacture.

An illustration of super capacitor given below (Qi, Zhaoxiang; Koenig, Gary M. (July 2017). “Review Article: Flow battery systems with solid electroactive materials”. Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology B, Nanotechnology and Microelectronics: Materials, Processing, Measurement, and Phenomena. 35 (4): 040801. doi:10.1116/1.4983210. ISSN 2166-2746)

Illustration of different types of capacitors below (Qi, Zhaoxiang; Koenig, Gary M. (July 2017). “Review Article: Flow battery systems with solid electroactive materials”. Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology B, Nanotechnology and Microelectronics: Materials, Processing, Measurement, and Phenomena. 35 (4): 040801. doi:10.1116/1.4983210. ISSN 2166-2746):