Shell kickstarts cleantech startup accelerator GCxN
Shell has announced the first round of cleantech startups chosen for its GameChanger Accelerator program GCxN. GameChanger powered by U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is multi-million-dollar, multiyear cleantech accelerator focusing on technologies that will “enable the grid of the future through long-term energy storage and controls”.
Following an extensive global selection process, GCxN has named four companies to its inaugural cohort as it partners early-stage companies with experts from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Shell’s GameChanger program to provide promising startups with access to financial resources, state-of-the-art facilities and world-class technical experts. The assistance is designed to help companies de-risk technology development while accelerating their path to market.
Each participating startup will receive as much as $250,000 in non-dilutive funding to aid in development and demonstration of its technology, with the opportunity for future follow-on funding and beta-testing with a strategic program partner, in addition to access to expertise and laboratory capabilities at both NREL and Shell.
Companies selected for this round are:
- Antora Energy (Fremont, Calif.): Antora Energy is building large batteries for the grid at remarkably low costs using modified solar panels to efficiently change heat to electricity. This technology will both improve grid resiliency and provide long-duration energy storage at approximately five percent the cost of conventional batteries. Antora Energy was referred to GCxN by Cyclotron Road.
- e-Zn (Toronto, Ontario): The first company in the world to “metallize” electricity, e-Zn’s zinc-based energy storage system is both affordable and flexible — it can be deployed in any geographic setting and succeed in small or large-scale systems, while also delivering energy for hours, days, weeks or longer. e-Zn was referred to GCxN by MaRS.
- Electrical Grid Monitoring Ltd. (Rosh Haayin, Israel): EGM created its Meta-Alert™ system to secure real-time communications and perform self-learning analytics on the whole grid. The collected data produces insights for optimal grid management and operation. EGM was referred to GCxN by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
- Feasible, Inc. (Emeryville, Calif.): Feasible, Inc. is developing a technology platform that uses sound waves and data analytics to deliver insights about batteries across the value chain. At scale, Feasible’s technology will enable widespread adoption of clean energy sources by improving the performance and safety of battery packs and decreasing their lifetime cost. Feasible was referred to GCxN by Cyclotron Road.
Unlike most accelerators, companies cannot simply apply to GCxN. Instead, companies must be recommended by a member of the Channel Partners network (cleantech incubators, accelerators and universities), with finalists selected after rigorous review by technology experts at NREL and Shell. The selected startups are focused on developing long-term energy storage and smart grid controls.
Richard Adams, director of NREL’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center said: “We’re very excited to begin work with this first round of GCxN companies. It is our goal to fill this program with game-changing ideas, and our first cohort of startup companies demonstrates real potential to enable the grid of the future through their unique technologies.”
Lene Hviid, global manager for Shell GameChanger™ said: “GCxN’s first cohort of companies have impressed us with their innovative ideas, their technical know-how and their eagerness to advance cleaner energy technologies.”
Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition
The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.
The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).
This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.
In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.
The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.