The New Plymouth-rooted startup is working on energy storage solutions that have the potential to decarbonize large economies around the world. And we rely on the energy sector to hold innovation in both hands.
energy bank Founder Tim Hawkey was destined for a career in the energy industry, but it may have taken years (including a stint as a skydiver) to make it happen. Growing up in, around and around power plants where his father managed various power plants throughout New Zealand in the 1980s. His passion for engineering was further fueled by a high school physics teacher who made the then-teenager Hawkie obsessed with rockets.
“After I graduated from school, I took a few years off and then went on to the University of Auckland for an engineering degree. It showed that we have the ability to create a viable industry,” says Hawkey.
“It was so inspiring that I joined the entrepreneurship-themed Velocity program in my final year. and I knew that was what I wanted to do, so I had to find a problem to solve.”
So, with clear ambitions and NZ$3,000 in his bank account, Hawkey moved to San Francisco. Knowing that it was the hub for all things technology and entrepreneurship, he went from designing a millionaire’s kitchen in Solidworks to sleeping in the backseat of Ford’s Expedition SUV to create his own. wanted to serve as his camp base for establishing a business. The lesson was fulfilling.
“I was doing what I could to save as much money as I could while looking for the problem that caught me. I remember listing items,” says Hawkey.
“One of them was the issue of energy storage. The funny thing is that there was almost a religious attachment to energy, but that was not what I thought. That was enough for me to move in with my parents in Plymouth.
“This was about three months before Covid finally hit, and cleantech wasn’t hot at the time. We talked to potential customers and continued with various iterations of what we were aiming for.”
Today, Hawkey and his team at EnergyBank are trying to accomplish two things. At the moment, wind farms have some advantage. The intermittent nature of offshore wind farms means that production is not always going on (the wind is not blowing all the time) and when the wind is blowing, all wind farms in the area is generating energy, which means that oversupply causes market prices to fall. This type of renewable energy is undervalued because it cannot provide a viable supply to the market.
Also, many of the world’s coastlines cannot benefit from this type of renewable energy, as current floating technology only allows wind turbines to be placed in relatively shallow coastal areas.
“Fixed-bottom and floating wind turbines are now projected to be deployed cost-effectively in water depths up to 1000m. This is due to the cost of mooring lines at this depth1 But much of the world’s coastline is quickly sinking into much deeper waters.Overall, this limits the size of the market in which floating offshore wind can be competitive,” said Hawkey. explains.
The first port of call is therefore a way to help floating offshore wind farm developers overcome wind energy intermittency by harnessing energy storage. Second, EnergyBank is poised to expand its wind power capacity, with technology that means wind farms can go into deeper waters than ever before.
“Based on an analysis of ocean depth, available wind resources, and proximity to metropolitan areas, 14 million of viable spaces for grid-connected utility-scale DOGES (Deep Sea Gravity Energy Storage). We identified a square kilometer (about 2.7% of the Earth’s surface area) system,” explains Hawkey.
“By providing a storage solution that also serves as an economical mooring system, EnergyBank enables floating offshore wind farms to enter deeper waters and store energy when demand increases. Being able to ship allows us to secure a better price for the energy we sell, which ultimately expands opportunities for renewable energy generation.”
Importantly, EnergyBank’s solution is also scalable and never runs out of space to build. And, relatively speaking, they don’t take up much space as they are vertical mechanisms.
“When the global energy system reaches full scale, what this means is the potential to decarbonize large economies around the world. countries can actually replace the use of fossil fuels,” says Hawkey.
Last year, Hawkey was able to put Velocity learnings to good use when he put together a pitch five minutes before pitching to a group of investors. But he didn’t need to worry too much. 9 he was wanted by a VC (venture capitalist) to join and the end result secured him $2.7 million in the first round of funding.
“It comes down to validating the market and is a bit like the cookbook recipe you follow to make the whole investment process work. I was able to reach the workspace.”
With floating wind turbine technology expanding rapidly since its launch in 2019, Hawkey recognizes that now is the time to focus on energy banks. And he believes they are almost there.
“We started with a global market simulation to uncover the sweet spot for energy storage. We now have an integrated scale to test, prototype, and scale up to get the job done.”
Overall, however, Hawkie remains the quintessentially humble Kiwi when it comes to talking about everything he’s accomplished thus far.
“It’s an honor to be able to pay for it myself and work with so many smart people. It’s certainly challenging, but very rewarding.”
Story by Erin Harrison.
https://nzentrepreneur.co.nz/energybanks-wind-energy-storage-solution-aims-to-decarbonise-the-worlds-largest-economies/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=energybanks-wind-energy-storage-solution-aims-to-decarbonise-the-worlds-largest-economies EnergyBank’s wind energy storage solution aims to decarbonize the world’s largest economy – NZ Entrepreneur Magazine