Why we back Power Roll (Our thesis)
Since the emergence of solar power, and especially more recently, the importance of energy security and its sustainable production continues to gain more and more focus. Modern Silicon PV panels are now very competitively priced, usually manufactured out of China, and are perfect for ground-mounted arrays and solid rooftops. But unfortunately, these silicon PV panels are rigid, heavy, and difficult to install.
Millions of surfaces aren't as conveniently flat or structurally sound as the markets that silicon PV targets. Furthermore, there are rural, hard to reach and off-grid locations that struggle to justify the installation of clean energy generation, due to the difficulty and cost of installation. Here lies an untapped and ready-made market.
Immediate localised energy to drive our modern technologies with zero carbon emissions at the point of use is a compelling proposition, and one Acceleris fully supports.
Power Roll was founded to take advantage of this global, under utilised market through its game-changing solar generation and storage architecture.
Acceleris believe that the renewable energy sector needs a disruptively low-cost solution to enable mass scale of low carbon generation & storage. Power Roll's novel and protected platform technology provide a significant opportunity to achieve this. As energy demand increases, balanced with the urgent need for carbon reduction, Power Roll's disruptively low-cost products have the potential to be a vital part of the low-carbon revolution.
What have the Company been up to
In 2011 Dr John Topping invented the microgroove architecture and filed the first patent. In 2012, Big Solar (as the Company was previously called) was founded to commercialise this technology. Following the first substantial equity investment in 2014, proof of concept work progressed, and the team grew to develop the technology further.
Power Roll's architecture is based on a patented microgroove structure. Microgrooves (similar to holograms) are the base platform for all of Power Roll's innovations. At 1-2 microns (thousandths of a millimetre) wide and 1-2 microns deep, microgrooves are 3-dimensional patterns created to channel and direct a flow of energy. Whether that energy has been harvested from the sun or stored in a capacitor, it is the microgrooves that provide the conductive surface.
The technology architecture has several use-cases, including flexible solar PV, energy storage in a capacitor, and a sensor film. All these use-cases are global opportunities, and the Company's business plan is to scale up and the license the technology worldwide.
Power Roll achieved its first commercial license and joint venture with Deki electronics in 2019. Their second scientific paper was published in Energy& Environmental Journal, and the power cell efficiency continued to improve due to the extensive R&D phase. In 2020, an additional commercial agreement was achieved with a UK defence firm, and, following substantial fundraising in 2021, the Company relocated to a new pilot manufacturing facility in Durham.
Acceleris and Power Roll
Acceleris worked closely with Power Roll throughout this period, advising on multiple capital raises as key development milestones were achieved. This culminated in a £5.8m fundraise closing in early 2021. This fundraising has been pivotal for the business. It allowed the Company to relocate to a more extensive pilot manufacturing facility to scale up the size of their demo units for trials and testing. This key milestone will enable Power Roll to continue to progress the scaling up of the technology and progress commercial discussions with potential licensees.
"Being an early-stage company with genuinely disruptive technology is both exciting and difficult – Acceleris believed in our technology and team at a very early stage which was crucial for our business. Raising venture capital for a pre-revenue, regional business is known to be difficult, but through our partnership with Acceleris, we managed to navigate multiple funding rounds, and we are now looking forward to a significant period of commercialisation and company growth" - Neil Spann - CEO
"We believe that unique innovation is the core of venture capital – Cleantech innovation is required to solve many of our global energy generation and consumption problems, and we are passionate about supporting this sector. Power Roll is a strong example of a quality VC investment, including a high calibre team, an enormous addressable market and truly game-changing technology. Power Roll has been an absolute pleasure to work with, and we cannot wait to see what the future holds for this business." - Patrick Molyneux – Director -Acceleris
With Power Roll recently raising an additional round of funding and hosting a grand opening for the pilot plant - the future looks bright. As the Company continues its technology scale-up and starts to launch its technology to key markets as the commercialisation phase accelerates, we will be watching closely.