Many experts agree that renewable energies such as solar energy or wind power will play a major role in the energy revolution. But the central question is: How can a stable power supply be guaranteed if there is no wind or if the sun is covered by clouds? Basically, the answer is simple. The power needs to be stored. However, practice poses numerous challenges, so that there are currently no efficient and reliable storage systems. Our startup of the week, m-Bee, wants to change this and therefore is developing innovative inverters for battery storage systems. A trend-setting technology about which co-founder Nam Truong tells us more in our interview.
Hello, Nam! Thank you so much for taking the time today. We start directly with the first question: How would you present m-Bee in a nutshell?
We set a new standard for large-scale battery systems with our new, modular inverter technology to accelerate the deployment of batteries in the power system and the mobility sector.
Behind this are certainly complex technological subtleties. Could you explain them in more detail using youur battery systems?
Sure. Battery systems consist of batteries for storing the energy and inverters that convert the stored energy to usable electrical energy for the electricity grid. Systems today use high-voltage battery packs with a nominal voltage of around 800 volts that are then connected to a large central inverter.
We use a different approach, where the large and bulky central inverter is replaced by decentralized electronics that are mounted on smaller battery modules with less than 60 volts. Instead of chopping the battery voltage to achieve the required AC-voltage for the electricity grid, our technology orchestrates and stacks the battery modules dynamically to actively build the required output voltage.
You have just compared your development with the systems that are currently used. In this context, could you give us some more details about the advantages of the m-Bee solution?
Our new inverter technology improves the design of battery storage systems. The achieved benefits are safe battery voltage, fail-safety, and an energy loss reduction of 70%. This directly translates to faster and cheaper deployment of battery systems and higher safety for your employees in production, installation, and maintenance.
The battery systems that use our technology are also more reliable with a lower downtime and offer higher efficiency, thus lower levelized cost of storage (LCOS).
And do you sell the battery systems as a whole or just your inverter technology?
We see ourselves as suppliers of inverters for battery system integrators. The business model is therefore a classic product model in a supplier setting, where we face a manageable, yet growing number of customers that serve as multipliers for our product.
We will offer an attractive price for our customers that is based on the market price, even though we offer significant benefits. Additional, more sophisticated functions, such as uninterruptible power supply or island grid capability will be unlocked for an additional fee, if required. We aim at providing tailored solutions for the needs of our customers.
Which market do you address with your business model and what potential do you see there?
We will first address the market for stationary battery storage systems in Germany. We are currently talking to the major battery system producers to test and improve our technology. As soon as we have the first products ready, we will not only ramp up our production but look to extend our market internationally. The global market for battery inverters in the stationary application alone is expected to grow to 3.4 billion Euros by 2025 and is expected to keep growing rapidly.
Because we have a versatile system that is software defined, we can quickly move to other applications, such as battery-buffered DC-charging stations for electric vehicles and the power train of electric vehicles, as well. This will be our goal in the medium term.
m-Bee was founded at the beginning of this year and has already achieved a lot since then. Where do you currently stand with the development of your product and which goals do you want to achieve in the near future?
We are currently testing our first prototype system with a rated power of 100 kW at a pilot customer’s site. We will consider the learnings on the development of the next version that will serve as basis for the required certification and optimization for the production. The scheduled market launch of our first product will be by the mid of 2020.
We are currently looking for our first investment round with a 7-digit investment size. We invite investors to become part of m-Bee and set the next standard for battery systems.