French energy giant confirms it has acquired additional stake in UK demand response specialist KiWi Power

ENGIE has increased its stake in UK-based demand response and energy storage specialist KiWi Power for an undisclosed sum.

The French energy services giant announced yesterday that it has acquired the shares in KiWi Power held by the company's two co-founders, Yoav Zingher and Ziko Abram.

The move builds on ENGIE's previous investment in KiWi Power, which was made three years ago when KiWi Power and ENGIE entered into a strategic relationship to jointly develop a portfolio of demand response services and energy storage projects.

Reports suggested that as part of the deal Yoav Zingher and Ziko Abram have exited the company. 

KiWi Power had not responded to a request for comment at the time of going to press.

In a statement, the company said the share purchase was "a testament to the robustness of KiWi Power's agile technology, its ever-expanding UK, global and energy storage portfolio, and its expertise in navigating in a highly complex, competitive, and regulated market".

"It also marks the start of the next phase of growth for KiWi Power, backed by its other major shareholders who have supported the company since its inception, as the company scales up its best-in-class technology for deployment across its UK and international client base and in partnership with ENGIE's global operations," it added.

The remaining stake in the company is reported to be held by an unnamed private equity firm.

The deal is a further vote of confidence in the fast-expanding demand-side response, which helps businesses and other organisations to automatically curb power demand during periods of peak demand, reducing energy bills and allowing them to sell flexible grid provisions to grid operators.

A number of leading energy companies have invested in the space in recent years, with experts predicting it will become a critical component of smarter and cleaner power grids.

The sector also received a boost last week, after the European Court of Justice ruled against the UK government's Capacity Market following complaints that it was biased against demand-side response services and energy storage installations.

The news of ENGIE's increased stake in KiWi Power came on the same day as the company also announced it has been appointed by West Yorkshire Combined Authority to provide a new network of at least 88 rapid electric vehicle charging points across the region.

The project is being backed by almost £2m of funding from the government's Office for Low Emission Vehicles and will see the Authority work with ENGIE and the Councils of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield, which are providing an additional £1.2m of match funding.

Under the agreement, ENGIE will install, own and operate the charge points for a period of at least 10 years, providing 100 per cent renewable electricity for the charging network. Each charging point will have two charging bays with one specifically earmarked for taxis and private hire vehicles and the other available for all users. Taxi and private hire drivers will be able to reserve time slots at the new charge points.

ENGIE said the charging points would provide a full charge to an electric vehicle in around 20 to 30 minutes and would be free to use until late October 2021.

"Installing new charging points at these sites, where people can charge their vehicles for free, is designed to encourage the transfer to electric vehicles," said Councillor Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee. "Making half the bays exclusively for the use of taxis and private hire vehicles could result in up to 500 diesel taxis and private hire vehicles being converted to hybrid and pure electric versions by 2020, which would reduce Nitrogen Dioxide emissions from taxis by as much as 18 per cent, in line with our target of developing Clean Energy and Environmental Resilience for Leeds City Region."

ENGIE has now provided over 60,000 electric vehicle charge points worldwide and Wilfrid Petrie, CEO of ENGIE UK and Ireland, said the infrastructure was delivering both air quality benefits and "tangible improvements in carbon reduction".

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