Massachusetts startup crowdfunding short-term energy storage technology

By Jonathan Spencer Jones, Smart Energy International

Helix Power Corporation is seeking seed capital from investors to advance its patented flywheel short-term energy storage technology.

The Massachusetts-based start-up is aiming for a minimum of $500,000 and up to $1.07 million to build out and commercialize its technology.

The minimum investment requirement is $1,000 and key terms are an interest rate of 5% over 24 months and a valuation cap of $10 million.

Investors who invest less than $75,000 will have their securities held in trust with a custodian that will serve as a single shareholder of record.

Crowdfunding has gained growing popularity for building out solar PV developments and it has the prospect of being similarly used for other distributed energy resources such as storage, which offer the prospect of an ROI. However, Helix Power’s is potentially a first for the development phase of a technology of this type rather than for a specific project.

Helix Power’s technology, which has undergone five years of development to date, is envisaged in scalable 1MW units comprised of a carbon fiber rotor, frictionless magnetic bearings, and sealed in a vacuum, with an estimated 95% of the energy stored able to be returned to the source.

The charge/discharge response time is estimated at 90 seconds, similar to batteries, and the technology should deliver more than one million cycles over a 20 year-plus lifespan.

The main application is anticipated to be for grid balancing, while others include regenerative braking in transit systems and seaport cranes and storage in microgrids.

Helix Power projects a market size greater than 75,000 units and with production ramping up after 2024 estimates it could reach 1,000 units with $1 billion in sales annually by 2035.

Previous funders of the technology have included the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the US Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories.

Currently, the hardware is being procured for the full-scale prototype flywheel system, with building and testing planned for Q1 2022. A second full-scale system is planned for testing and customer deployment in Q4 2022, followed by commercialization in Q4 2023.

“No product like this exists in the marketplace. The Helix team is well equipped to develop this flywheel product and introduce it to the market,” Helix Power president Matthew Lazarewicz, a former executive of flywheel storage pioneer Beacon Power, says in his Linkedin profile.

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