Urban Electric Power only energy storage company named to list of 20 startups the electric utility industry will mentor this year.


Its patented rechargeable alkaline battery offers modular energy storage without lithium or its fire risks, at twice the energy density of antiquated lead batteries

Palo Alto, California, June 15— The only energy storage company in EPRI’s latest pick of 20 startups to partner with top electric utilities is Urban Electric Power (UEP), a New York-based company that has patented a way to make the familiar alkaline battery rechargeable at scale.

“It’s a state-of-the-art energy storage system based on a familiar idea,” said Dr. Sanjoy Banerjee, UEP’s founder, Executive Chairman and CEO. “If you have a battery-operated smoke detector at home, you already trust your life to an alkaline battery every day. This gives us an excellent opportunity to show how our improved rechargeable version can help solve problems with energy storage.” 

Banerjee, Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering at City College of New York (CCNY), won the Green Chemistry Challenge Academic Award in 2019 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for inventing with his team at CCNY several improvements on the century-old technology behind today’s common household battery. They found a way to recharge it for 50 times longer than when Ford Motors first tried recharging alkalines.

UEP used their innovations to develop modular batteries that can provide backup electricity for personal use, installed in a home garage or basement; be grouped as part of a commercial microgrid; or installed en masse at grid scale by an electric utility or independent power provider. They boast what other batteries cannot: non-toxic energy storage, suitable for indoor use without the fire risk of lithium-ion batteries, at an attractive cost.

UEP’s rechargeable alkaline chemistry uses zinc and manganese, cheaper and more abundantly found on Earth than lithium. As a result, alkaline batteries can be up to 10 times more affordable per kilowatt-hour than most lithium-ion systems today. “We’re both more planet-friendly and also easier to replace and source over time, given the varying global trade climate,” said Ann Marie Augustus, UEP’s Vice President of Operations

UEP’s batteries offer twice the energy density of toxic lead-acid batteries still in use around the world (a leading reason why UNICEF says 1 in 3 children worldwide have lead poisoning). Paired with solar panels, they can avoid the air pollution and global warming footprint of diesel generators, while competing with them on cost. 

A panel of experts for global utilities and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) chose the 20 startups for this year’s Incubatenergy Labs® program from more than 250 entrants from around the world. “Incubatenergy Labs brings startups and utilities together to crowdsource the demonstration of these innovations and speed the commercialization of promising technologies,” said Incubatenergy Lead Erik Steeb June 10 in announcing this year’s list.  

The winning companies will now spend 16 weeks working with electric utilities and EPRI on demonstration projects to accelerate decarbonization, electrification, grid modernization, and other electric power industry “innovation imperatives.” Results will be presented Oct. 19-20 during EPRI’s interactive Incubatenergy Labs Demo Days.

Host utilities this year include Ameren and Tennessee Valley Authority, with participating utilities Con Edison, Duke Energy, Enel, FirstEnergy, Fortis (Newfoundland Power, Tucson Electric Power, FortisBC, Central Hudson), Green Mountain Power, Vermont Electric Coop, Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO), New York Power Authority, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Portland General Electric, Southern California Edison, Salt River Project (SRP), and Xcel Energy.

To learn more about Urban Electric Power’s rechargeable alkaline battery technology, see https://urbanelectricpower.com

To set up an interview with one of its engineers, journalists may contact Peter Kelley at peter@renewcomm.com, +1 202-270-8831.