Our Investment in Moment Energy
Creating sustainable energy storage from upcycled EV batteries
The International Energy Agency estimates that electric vehicles (EVs) on the road will expand from 11 million in 2020 to 145 million vehicles globally by 2030. The prospect of EVs accounting for 7% of the worldwide vehicle fleet (and 10% - 15% of total sales) by the end of decade presents a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it will help decarbonize emissions from transportation; on the other, as some have predicted, it will create a major waste management problem as a growing number of EV batteries reach their end of life. Governments have taken note with the European Union (E.U.), most notably, expected to update its Battery Directive to mandate that producers and EV manufacturers shoulder the responsibility of collecting and recycling used-batteries. While the recycling of lead-acid batteries, used to power gasoline-fueled vehicles, is a long-standing industry, taking a similar reuse approach toward EV batteries is fraught with unique challenges.
Conventional EV batteries have been designed without thought to them eventually being recycled. Within an EV battery pack, there are typically several individual modules in which lie hundreds of lithium-ion cells that are held together by adhesives. Present techniques used to access the key components — such as the anodes and cathodes — require solvents that are hazardous to human health and the environment. For recyclers to recover the sought-after lucrative metals, such as cobalt and nickel, they must rely on methods like pyrometallurgy or hydrometallurgy. The former process involves energy-intensive burning and the latter uses caustic chemicals; both practices destructively reduce the battery until its precious metals are all that remain. In addition to generating waste and emissions, they are in many cases an uneconomic means of recovery.
Providing a sustainable opportunity to upcycle EV batteries, Moment Energy, a Vancouver, British Columbia based startup, is repurposing depleted batteries by giving them a second life as an energy storage solution. Partnering with major EV manufacturers and municipalities, the company is able to source a steady supply of often pre-tested batteries which it then assembles into electrical storage assets for the commercial & industrial sector (C&I) as well as remote communities that are unable to access the electric grid. We’re excited to announce our investment in Moment Energy, as it creates a sustainable end-of-life market for EV batteries that helps communities and industries be more energy resilient and better-equipped to transition to onsite renewable energy.
What is Moment Energy?
Moment Energy repurposes end-of-life EV batteries and assembles them into energy storage assets which both industrial facilities and off-the-grid communities can use to become more energy efficient and resilient. It procures batteries from EV manufacturers and municipalities — who are motivated by growing regulatory pressure to recycle them — and integrates them into a single storage solution. The underlying innovation is as much based in software as it is in hardware. The company’s proprietary battery management system (BMS) enables it to integrate discrete batteries, of varying manufacturers and conditions, into a seamlessly managed storage solution.
Because of the intelligence afforded by the BMS, the company can engineer modularity in its battery unit design. If one EV battery experiences issues, the BMS will automatically compensate, reallocating charging load across the remaining batteries. This architecture means the battery unit has no-single point of failure and can, therefore, accept batteries of variable quality.
The company’s initial deployments served remote communities in Canada’s pacific coast, where homes largely relied on diesel generators due to being off the energy grid. The team discovered a key problem faced by these communities: Despite around-the-clock operation of the generators, electricity was not being stored. Moreover, the diesel-generators produced emissions harmful to human health and the climate. By setting up its battery units in these remote locations, Moment Energy has helped residents reduce their dependence on all-day diesel energy generation and, more transformatively, address the intermittency barriers that preclude the adoption of solar energy. Along similar lines, the company has found a receptive market among C&I clients who seek to be more energy resilient amid the threat of grid failures, reduce the cost of their reliance on the grid, as well as build out the necessary infrastructure to allow for the installation of onsite renewable energy.
Moment Energy makes money by selling its battery units to these distinct customer segments and has seen strong interest from EV battery providers, who have expressed a willingness to pay for the offtake of their batteries. The sophistication of the BMS itself also offers an opportunity to serve as an operating system for other companies’ energy storage solutions.
Why Did We Invest?
Compelling Founder-Market Fit
Moment Energy was founded by a four-person team of friends who graduated from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. The team consists of Edward Chiang (CEO), Sumreen Rattan (COO), Gurmesh Sidhu (CPO), and Gabriel Soares (CTO). They met each other at their university’s Mechatronic Systems Engineering Program, where they co-founded an electric race vehicle team.
With prior experience from Tesla, Apple, and Intel, the founders impressed us with their technical prowess, long-term ambition, and entrepreneurial hustle that they’ve demonstrated since starting the company in early 2020.
Market & Regulatory Tailwinds
Developments in both the commercial sector and regulatory landscape are encouraging signs that Moment Energy will be lifted by an emerging trend of “Extended Producer Responsibility.” This mandate, which has been most forcefully implemented in the E.U., places the onus on companies for recycling the waste resulting from the goods they sell to consumers. Independent of regulations, EV companies view their long-term success as being predicated on reassuring their consumers that their vehicles are sustainably designed from cradle to grave. We believe both of these factors will be a boon for Moment Energy in securing a steady supply of retired batteries from producers eager to partner.
A Multi-faceted Climate Value Proposition
One of the underlying reasons that we were drawn to the company was that it offered a panoply of compelling propositions around climate. By offtaking retired EV batteries, Moment Energy is helping to mitigate waste that would otherwise be bound for the landfill or a highly-polluting recovery process. Upcycling EV batteries to create an elegant energy storage solution offers the prospect of reducing communities’ and industries’ reliance on carbon-intensive electricity sources and paves the way for them to adopt intermittent renewable energy. Both of these opportunities offer meaningful value with respect to lowering emissions.
We’re excited by the traction Moment Energy has achieved in its early stage, which includes partnerships with some of the largest automotive manufacturers. While addressing challenges on both the supply and demand sides will not be easy, we strongly believe the team, which has shown itself to be nimble and resourceful, is well-positioned to build a large and enduring business.
Science.org: “A Dead Battery Dilemma”
BBC: “Electric cars: What will happen to all the dead batteries?”
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