Faraday Grid is looking to go on an investment spree after bagging GBP £25 million (USD $32.5 million) from Adam Neumann, the co-founder of WeWork.
Andrew Scobie, Faraday Grid's CEO, told GTM that his Edinburgh, Scotland-based company, which unveiled a novel transformer design in 2017, would be announcing acquisitions, partnerships and new innovation centers in Europe and Japan later this year.
“In the coming weeks, there [are] going to be some massive announcements,” he said.
He also revealed that Faraday Grid would be looking to attract several hundred million dollars in a fundraising round likely starting in June or July.
The round should be enough to allow the company to achieve full commercialization and see it through to a market flotation that could happen within three years, depending on market conditions, Scobie said.
Faraday Grid is aiming to ship hundreds of its Exchanger products this year, he said. “We have six global at-scale deployments,” he commented.
The Exchangers are being offered to utilities under a made-to-measure commercial model in which Faraday Grid shares ownership of the units in exchange for a portion of the long-term value they deliver.
The commercial agreements could, for example, see Faraday Grid benefiting from balancing services market revenues that are off-limits to utilities for regulatory reasons, Scobie said.
Faraday Grid would look to tie up agreements of up to 60 years to tap into these recurring revenue streams, he said. Scobie outlined the plans after Faraday Grid announced a major cash injection from Neumann, who has a net worth of $4.1 billion, according to Forbes.
The $32.5 million investment is Neumann’s second bet on Faraday Grid, giving the WeWork CEO “a meaningful minority stake, in the low double digits,” said Scobie.
Neumann, who also holds investments in some of Faraday Grid’s other backers, “is kind of a friend of the family,” Scobie said.
The billionaire is known to have an interest in sustainability. An early incarnation of WeWork, called Green Desk, saw coworkers being supplied with renewable energy and recycled furniture.
“Building a prosperous, sustainable path forward requires a bold vision that reimagines the future of cities and the infrastructure they rely on,” said Neumann in Faraday Grid’s press note.
“Faraday Grid will fundamentally change the way we access and use energy in the future. Andrew and the team have built a world-class offering that has an incredible opportunity to uplift all people and communities and have a positive impact on the world.”
This month’s transaction will go toward helping Faraday Grid expand in the U.K., the U.S., Japan, Australia and Europe, said the company in a press note.
The investment will also accelerate commercialization of the company’s Faraday Exchanger technology with project partners worldwide, the note said.
The Scotsman reports Faraday Grid was expecting to increase its workforce tenfold this year, from 100 to 1,000, adding to its staff in Edinburgh and in an existing research and development base in Washington, D.C.
Faraday Grid has made big claims for its closely guarded Exchanger concept, which has been compared to an internet router for the grid. Scobie said that under certain conditions the product could help grids adjust to renewable energy penetrations of up to 90 percent.
In May last year, a Scottish research facility called the Power Networks Demonstration Centre, affiliated to the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, appeared to lend credibility to these claims.
The Centre, which counts Faraday Grid as a member, said an Exchanger had outperformed a traditional transformer across a battery of 16 tests covering under-voltage, over-voltage, dips, swells, harmonics, flicker and square waves.
More recently, the British network operator UK Power Networks confirmed it would be testing the Faraday Exchanger this year.
UK Power Networks will seek to validate Faraday Grid tests showing the Exchanger could cut the need for balancing services by an average of 40 percent and reduce net reactive power generation by an average of 34 percent, among other benefits.
“We’re looking to determine whether the performance of Faraday Exchangers on the network is favorable to that of traditional transformers and comparable to that achieved in the Faraday Grid feasibility study,” Alex Davenport, innovation project manager, told GTM in October.
Siobhan Meehan, communications officer for UK Power Networks, said there are no updates on the testing program for now.