Instagrid charges ahead with ambitious battery storage plans

Andreas Sedlmayr, co-founder and joint CEO of German battery storage manufacturer Instagrid wants to use consumer electronics technology to make battery storage solutions for construction rental equipment smaller and more portable. He tells Lucy Barnard about the company’s journey so far and his ambitious US expansion plans

For Andreas Sedlmayr, co-founder and joint CEO of German battery storage manufacturer Instagrid, small is beautiful.

The key difference, Sedlmayr says, between the battery storage solutions his company is manufacturing and those available elsewhere is size: Instagrid’s first product, the Instagrid One has a rated energy capacity of 2.1 kWh – enough to power a 230V welding machine for a full day’s work - with a weight of 20kg. Its largest unit, the Instagrid Move 200, which is currently still in development phase, has a rated energy capacity of 398 kWh and can power three 60kVA cranes and weighs 4,700kg.

Andreas Sedlmayr, Instagrid co-founder and joint CEO. Photo: Instagrid

Sedlmayr studied materials science at Kahlsruher Institute of Technology before working for tookmaker Bosch where he manufactured small handheld battery devices. It was in this capacity that he started thinking about filling a gap in the market for power packs for tradespeople. In 2018 he founded Instagrid and the rest, as they say, is history.

“We were making small batteries, but we saw that when it gets larger, you either have to use a combustion engine or you have a plug that goes into the mains,” he says. “We looked at the power packs currently available, and there are 40-50 out there but they are designed for leisure and camping and not professionals,” he says. “So, our first machine is a third of the weight of comparable packs and it can turn any large machinery that runs from a single phase.”

To do this, Sedlmayr says, Instagrid has produced a lithium-ion battery which, instead of incorporating a separate battery pack and converter, uses sophisticated software to merge the two.

“Having been responsible for small handheld battery devices before, we decided to fundamentally build a different battery,” Sedlmayr says. “We have almost half a million lines of software code running the battery and making sure it has the specification it has. So really the hardware is really easy and less complicated than what other people are doing but the software is really complex. What the customer sees is a small package that’s really powerful with a socket.”

So far, the company says, it has sold and shipped more than 30,000 of its smaller Instagrid One units to rental companies at a price of €3,450 a pop. Major European rental firms already stocking the product include Kiloutou, Loxam, Ramirent, Skanska Rental, Borchers & Speer and Brandon Hire Station.

Initially Sedlmayr says, Instagrid concentrated its sales efforts on the three major European rental markets of Germany-Austria-Switzerland, the UK, and France and Benelux before branching out into the Nordics, Spain and Italy.

Focussing on US expansion

In 2024 the company is focusing on establishing a market in the US. In January, Instagrid opened its first North American office in New York State following a US$95 million (€87m) series C fundraising round.

“There are lots of hire companies in the UK that also operate in the US so we’re working with them to get the product to customers,” says Sedlmayr. “If you look at the grid infrastructure and how US professionals work, that market poses a really large opportunity for us.”

At €3,450 for the Instagrid One, the unit retails at around twice the price of a small generator while rental rates for the Instagrid One generally stand at around €100 a day or €175 a week – around twice the rate for a small generator.

The Instagrid One. Photo: Instagrid

“The cost is actually not expensive,” says Sedlmayr. “You have to look at the total cost of ownership and the equivalent total cost of ownership with a generator. The generator may come at €2,000 but with a generator you pour $10-$15 of gasoline into it each day while you can recharge our battery for less than a single dollar and it lasts the whole day for mot applications. So within the first year you’re at breakeven. That’s what people have to understand about electric drivetrains. They’re much more efficient and if you compare them to the de facto standard in the market, which is the generator, they’re a much cheaper easier solution.”

Sedlmayr says that the company is still working on developing its larger Instagrid Move units which are the size of a euro pallet and can be mounted onto a trailer and pulled by a standard car.

By comparison, the most widely available lithium-ion battery storage system capable of powering construction sites currently on the market, Ampd Energy’s Enertainer unit typically comes in a 10-foot container.

“This is especially important if you want to maneuver it on the site,” says Sedlmayr. “If you want it shifting place every day so for something like railroad construction where you want to move these things several times a day.”

Sedlmayr says that he expects the larger Instagrid Move units to retail for around the same price as similar Enertainer units and to hire at similar rates too.

“We want to free the world from combustion engines,” says Sedlmayr enthusiastically. “There are still more than 200 million combustion engines produced every year while the human birth rate is at 80 million. It’s crazy that we are manufacturing combustion engines at 2.4 times the volume of children that we give to the world every year. We think that needs to stop.”

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