Cheeseman leaves Encell, sets up cooperative consultancy, Energy Blues

Dr Cheeseman — best known across the industry through her research work at Duracell, Spectrum and Exide — has left start-up Encell and, this July, set up a consultancy called Energy Blues.

It’s a consultancy with a difference in that I’ve assembled a group of 20 consultants that I’ve known and trusted for a long time —most of them with over 30 years of experience within the energy storage industry — and formed a cooperative.”

Cheeseman says she had been mulling the idea for some time and that she would not have had enough time to work at nickel-iron battery start-up Encell as well as Energy Blues.

She says that the underlying principle is to tap the wealth of knowledge of existing experts, some, who may be consultants already and others who are retired and want occasional work , and offer their services as specialists.

Somebody, for example, may be wanting to tap the expertise of someone who is a specialist in how lead acid can be integrated into industrial lighting or the challenges of setting up vanadium redox plants. It’s a question of matching skill sets to tasks.”

She also believes that the cooperative structure eliminates three of consultants’ bugbears — prospecting, accounting and tax preparation!

At present she reckons that the 20 consultants offer about 200 separate skills and that the cooperative would be able to cover about 70-80% of market needs.

Cheeseman envisages that when fully operational — perhaps in a year’s time — that 100% of the market will be covered and that the company structure would be very different from the limited liability company that it is now. “Instead of an LLC there will be a set of principals and probably a team of around 100,” he stated.

She also points out that cooperative ventures tend to have about three times the chance of success as other businesses.

In the future she expects tapping a large area of the market — where renewables fit into the grid, for example, “so we’d been looking for other related energy skills, such as knowledge of wind turbines, inverters and solar panels.”