In this week’s news, utility scale storage is on the up-and-up, led by a new partnership between two AEE members, and Microsoft makes major deals for advanced energy. Both stories exemplify two trends we’re tracking this year: major corporations choosing advanced energy and the rapid growth of the storage market. Any way you slice it, advanced energy is on the rise!
On Tuesday morning, AES Corp. and Siemens announced the two companies are combining forces for a new joint venture: Fluence. Each company is already a global leader in energy storage, and the new venture combines the technical expertise of AES Energy Storage with the global reach and power of Siemens, both AEE members. Fluence will offer storage solutions that range from commercial and industrial to the largest utility-scale storage, and in 160 countries.
Julian Spector, writing for Greentech Media, hails the move as an “unprecedented… pre-emptive consolidation of power in a young industry,” adding that Fluence is a competitor for energy storage superstar (and media darling) Tesla.
AES Energy Storage is a long-time leader in energy storage technologies. AES is responsible for the first-ever grid-scale advanced battery energy storage solution nearly a decade ago, and operates the largest global fleet of battery-based storage installations in the world, according to the company. Earlier this year, AES Energy Storage worked with San Diego Gas & Electric to build, deploy, and manage the world’s largest lithium-ion battery storage facility.
For its part, Siemens has been no energy storage slouch. In January of this year the company, which has been building heavy-duty grid equipment for more than a century, formed a partnership with Eos Energy Storage. But the new combo will help the companies go big in energy storage.
“We have to massify this product to continue to bring down costs,” said AES CEO Andres Gluski in an interview with Greentech Media. “On long-duration systems, we think we’re the most competitive in the market, but we’ll be even more competitive if we’re even larger.”
“Fluence will be an energy storage technology and services company, working with utilities, project developers and commercial and industrial customers across the globe,” said AES spokesman Steven Goldman in an interview with Utility Dive.
Meanwhile, Tesla is deploying the next biggest thing – that is, what will then become the world’s largest lithium-ion battery system. Tesla will work with French energy utility Neoen to install a 129 MWh battery, which will be paired with a wind farm in South Australia. On Twitter, Tesla CEO Elon Musk posted that the system will be the “highest power battery system in the world by a factor of three.”
This deal has been in the works since at least March, when Musk promised to get a massive system up and running 100 days after signing the contract. On your mark, get set, go: The deal was announced and confirmed July 6.
The normally bombastic Musk did offer some caution while speaking to reporters in Adelaide: “When you make something three times as big, does it still work as well? We think it will, but there is some risk in that,” he said. “We’re confident in our techniques and the design of the system.”
Meanwhile, closer to home, AEE member Microsoft announced a deal, which regulators in Washington State have approved, to purchase “carbon-free” power on the wholesale market. The settlement has the computing giant continuing to make some payments to its local utility, Puget Sound Energy.
“This agreement is good for business,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith in a statement this week. “But more important it’s good for residents, the environment, and the state of Washington.”
“We applaud Microsoft for its leadership in accelerating the transition to a clean energy future by finding creative ways for companies to access advanced energy resources to meet their sustainability goals, working collaboratively with utilities and regulators,” said AEE CEO Graham Richard, commenting on the Microsoft-PSE deal. “This agreement with Puget Sound Energy shows an innovative way to satisfy the desire of large companies for secure, clean, affordable energy to power their operations, while ensuring that all electricity customers have their needs met as well.”
AEE reported that 71 of the Fortune 100 have energy related sustainability goals they are committed to meet. Many are finding challenges procuring clean energy sources they need to power their operations. Download the report below: