Sent on October 27, 2022, 10:01 am
It is on the basis of a technology developed by the University of Tours, that of the bidirectional inverter, that the company Fractal Energy, recently founded in Tours by Fabien Berger and Jérôme Barbou, has developed Flex Box, the first plug & play device that stores electricity. renewable by supplying the electricity grid during off-peak hours to redistribute it at an economical price, even during peak hours. “We didn’t invent storage, but we want to democratize this technology, which is no more complicated to install than a microwave oven,” says Fabien Berger.
The first plug & play energy box
In fact, within a year – time of industrialization – the Flex Box will be sold to household appliances distributors, “ready to use”. All you have to do is plug it into a wall outlet, then set it up with your smartphone to connect to the internet and smart meter (Linky in France). “It is thanks to this direct connection between the meter and the box that the charging and discharging of electricity will take place in real time, automatically, without any intervention by the resident of the household”. The Flex Box is based on the principle of off-peak hours / peak hours, which are not necessarily those offered by our energy supplier but are those of the network. Which is powered by various energy productions, some fossil fuels, expensive and carbon-intensive, others low-carbon (from wind, photovoltaic, etc.) and less expensive. “Thanks to our solution, the consumer will be able to seize these opportunities, and we will redistribute the savings generated in the form of cashback, through our platform”, indicates the manager. On this same platform, the customer will have access to personalized educational information, to monitoring their consumption in real time but also to new measures such as the share of carbon they will have spent during the day. “It is important in terms of budget control but also to demonstrate that our behavior has a real impact on how we pollute with this electricity. For the first time in history, we consumers will have to adapt our behavior to production, without giving up the notion of comfort. “
With a capacity of 1 kWh, the Flex Box can cover about 40% of the needs of a small house but less than 5% of a large house. However, up to five can be connected at the same time, for a total power of 5 kWh. They will then be synchronized on the family’s home network to form a single virtual battery, with fully automatic charging and discharging.
An award-winning sustainable solution
For its CSR policy, Fractal Energy received the Remarkable Initiative label from the Initiative France network, which supported it. Also supported by the Center-Val de Loire region and Bpifrance – first through a French Tech Emergence grant of 90,000 euros, then with seed loans – the innovative startup has become part of the Deeptech community. He is also the winner of the latest I-lab competition, funded by the future investment program and managed by Bpifrance, with a contribution of 375,000 euros to irrigate its technological development. “I-Lab is also a catalyst in terms of visibility as it has reassured our historical partners and attracted new ones. We are now working with a French manufacturer who will produce the Flex Box in France. “
A first round of financing and Bpifrance financing
To start the industrialization of the Flex Box, with the ambition of equipping a thousand homes by the end of 2023, the startup is conducting its first fundraiser. “We need a budget of two million euros. Part of it will come from bank loans and Bpifrance, the rest from a capital increase of 700 thousand euros. We are also preparing with Bpifrance the loan that will be associated with the fundraising, with a whole series of mechanisms: an R&D loan, convertible bonds, etc. – which we will activate at the end of the round table. Our strength is plug and play, which allows us to see far, to internationalize without delay to position ourselves as the future leader in residential storage in Europe. We are therefore looking for French or foreign investors. We hope that in ten years on the continent it will be normal to have an energy box like an Internet box. “
For now, Fractal Energy has just started an experiment on 50 families with the OPH Gironde Habitat. “Social owners in individual homes are in our opinion an important development channel, because we want our technology to be useful first and foremost to families most exposed to energy poverty”, concludes Fabien Berger.
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