February 01, 2012

ElectroPS CEO Talks Power

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 2012 issue of Next Gen Mobility

Electro Power Systems designs, manufactures and sells power systems for backup power to telecom operators and tower companies around the world. The company’s primary focus is the development and commercialization of fuel cell power products able to solve real-world energy needs at a price point that is accessible to organizations of any size. ElectroPS currently is expanding its backup power sales while entering the full renewables hybrid systems market, for which the company has early trials in place.

Next Gen Mobility recently spoke to Adriano Marconetto, co-founder and CEO of ElectroPS, about its solutions that power wireless and other networks.

How and when was ElectroPS born?

Marconetto: The company was started in January 2005. I was importing early fuel cell systems from the U.S.A. but was unhappy with the product quality. When I found a local team of young, talented engineers who were experts in hydrogen technologies I decided to set up ElectroPS with the goal of becoming global leader in the fuel cell systems for backup power.

The founding team (two researchers, a Tech University professor and a serial entrepreneur – me) still manages the company today. Over the years we managed to involve skilled professionals to our team (especially in the sourcing and manufacturing areas) and valuable investors: industrial partners first, then VCs and private equity funds. We also developed and manufactured a real family of products, ranging from 1, 5 to 12kW, and began selling them commercially. This was something new, as many companies were talking about fuel cell power but few had products or commercially viable products.

Most importantly, we realized that of the two words fuel is definitely more important than cell, and began a concentrated R&D effort to designed and produced ElectroSelf, the first and only self-recharging fuel cell system. ElectroSelf can precisely generate its hydrogen on the spot from water, eliminating all fuel costs logistics and opening a huge potential market for fuel cell systems, both for grid backup and for storage/release of energy when coupled with renewables.

Who is your target customer?

Marconetto: Telecom operators and tower companies who wish to upgrade their current energy infrastructure to a green, reliable, fully remotely manageable and financially efficient solution.

We received our first significant purchase order in 2009 from Telecom Italia (News - Alert), and now we have more than 600 units installed worldwide, mostly in Asia and Europe, some in Africa and some in North America. In North America, we are about to start a significant number of field trials in the coming weeks, and I expect the U.S. and Canada will become an important market for us in the coming year.

In what applications are ElectroPS products being used today?

Marconetto: We are a very focused company. We identified the backup power as our market – it’s global, it’s substitutions and new installations, it’s now – and we have stuck to it. Within this market, we focus primarily on the telecom sector: telecoms’ need for backup is big and very real. They need solutions that work and generate savings when compared to legacy solutions such as batteries and gensets. Our technology allows them to do this, and can actually reduce their overall operating costs.

What’s noteworthy about your products?

Marconetto: Our power solutions cost-effectively replace legacy backup technologies and can provide seamless integration/extension with renewables within agile energy systems to efficiently manage, store and release energy on demand. They are also designed to facilitate peak shaving within the last mile of evolving smart grids in order to optimize the balance between power supply and demand.

ElectroSelf generates significant savings for our customers: depending on latitudes and specific needs the ROI is generally between one and three years (at least in the case of ElectroSelf, as we have spent a great deal of our R&D on lowering the price point of our products so that our products are price compatible with a batteries and gensets).

What’s next for ElectroPS?

Marconetto: We have a few exiting years in front of us. The technology roadmap that we follow calls for a new ElectroSelf version each year: smaller, lighter, more simple, more flexible, more efficient and cheaper. Our ongoing commercial development will take us to North America where we expect to establish a manufacturing unit by the end of 2012, while our presence in Asia will keep on growing, especially in India, Indonesia and China.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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