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Shell’s latest investment: The story behind Axiom Energy

Multinational oil and gas company Shell has backed energy start-up Axiom Energy to provide cold storage energy solutions for supermarkets and commercial buildings

 

California-based energy start-up Axiom Energy secured $7.6m (£5.6m) from Royal Dutch Shell’s corporate venture business and GXP Investments to enhance its thermal energy storage technology, it has announced.

This round of investment, which also included contributions from WorldQuant Ventures, SV Tech Ventures and Meson Capital, brings its total funding to $12.5m (£9.2m) to date.

Following its latest backing by some prolific investment companies, we take a look at the relatively little-known Axiom Exergy and how it secured so much financial faith.

“On a mission to reduce the cost of cold”

Founded in November 2013 by Anthony Diamond and Amrit Robbins, Axiom Exergy seeks to cut operational costs and business risks for commercial buildings with high refrigeration-based energy output, such as supermarkets.

The solution for which it received its most recent funding is a refrigeration battery that freezes tanks of salt water overnight while electricity costs are low, and then provides cooling in the day when power consumption peaks – apparently reducing energy demand by up to 40%.

On its website, the company says “we’re on a mission to reduce the cold of cold”.

CEO Mr Robbins adds: “Refrigeration systems, which account for more than 9% of commercial energy consumption, must operate around the clock to keep the food cold.

“As electricity grids and prices become increasingly unstable, inflexible refrigerated facilities find themselves in a difficult position.”

Energy
Axiom Exergy’s refrigeration battery

The company’s team of 11 includes engineers who evaluate a customer’s utility interval data, equipment loads, local weather patterns, and utility tariffs to then create a customised target for savings and efficiency.

Recognised by the industry

Axiom Exergy’s brief history is an impressive one including big name clients like Amazon-owned Whole Foods and Walmart, as well as influential investors like Tesla’s CTO JB Straubel.

And it hasn’t gone unnoticed by leading voices in the industry either. Co-founders Anthony Diamond and Amrit Robbins were named among Forbes’ 2017 “30 under 30” list, which recognises young entrepreneurs and innovators.

In the same year, the company’s Refrigeration Batter was awarded a Gold Stevie Award for Energy Innovation in the 15th annual American Business Awards – the premier business awards programme in the US.

Taking Axiom Energy to the next level

The investment should position Axiom Energy to scale its thermal energy storage solution in large, multi-site roll-outs at supermarkets and cold storage facilities.

The company also plans to begin rolling out additional features of the refrigeration battery platform, such as grid services, and addressing new segments of the world’s cooling markets.

Mr Robbins says: “Utilities manage intermittent renewable generation and spiky electric vehicle charging loads through price signals to customers, and grocery stores are currently unable to respond to these price signals in a meaningful way.

“The refrigeration battery is the ideal solution to enable energy flexibility for the cold chain and it simultaneously helps enable more renewables on the grid.

“We’re excited to find so many food retailers, investors, and electrical utilities that share our vision of transforming refrigeration systems into flexible, intelligent energy storage assets.”