Huge batteries set to spark new jobs

Nick Kitchin, Founder and CEO of Cumulus (centre) and the Cumulus EnergyStorage team. Credit Roger Moody.
Nick Kitchin, Founder and CEO of Cumulus (centre) and the Cumulus EnergyStorage team. Credit Roger Moody.

A South Yorkshire company is planning to create hundreds of jobs in a factory manufacturing huge rechargeable batteries.

Cumulus Energy Storage says its shipping container-sized units are the missing link between renewable generation and demand.

Last year, National Grid paid wind farm operators in the UK £90m not to generate electricity because there was simply too much to handle, it is claimed.

And solar generation peaks during the day - but peak demand is in the evening.

Cumulus founder and chief executive Nick Kitchin says their batteries could be used at national and regional level by organisations like National Grid, or commercially, by ‘energy-intensive’ industries such as steelmakers forced to cut production in the evening to avoid huge fines.

And that means hundreds of jobs in new factories in South Yorkshire, he predicts. He added: “It will be transforming. It’s a new industry developing new tech from established battery technology.”

The firm’s products are based on copper/zinc technology which is cheap and slow release.

Cumulus has just moved its five UK staff into larger offices on the Advanced Manufacturing Park on the Sheffield border. It plans to move into its own unit on the AMP in spring 2017 ahead of mass market production within the next two years. The firm also employs 10 at a research facility in San Francisco.

It has attracted £250,000 of seed investment and £800,000 from the UK Government.

Nick Kitchin predicts they will be building and selling batteries – costing about £350,000 each – from the end of 2018 and producing 1,000-a-year in 2020.

“We are in the industrial and grid-scale market where there are very few suppliers.”