NEWS: Even in the Week that Was, Advanced Energy Marches On With Mercedes-Benz Batteries, Bolts for Lyft Drivers, GE’s Windy Power Line, EnergySavvy for Savvier Utilities, and Walmart Doubling Down

Posted by Lexie Briggs on Nov 11, 2016 12:29:26 PM


Solar panels atop a Sam's Club in California.

What a week, huh? The election of President-elect Donald Trump dominated the headlines everywhere – even here on Advanced Energy Perspectives. Click here to read AEE’s memo to the Trump Transition Committee. There’s a lot of uncertainty about what the future holds, but something that hasn’t changed since Tuesday? Advanced energy is on the march. It’s a market that has grown nearly 30% in the U.S. since we started tracking in 2011, and we expect it to keep on growing. Check out these headlines from this week and last to see how AEE members and other companies are making American energy great every day.

First, from new AEE member Mercedes-Benz. The German automobile company is opening a U.S. energy storage arm. Energy storage is an incredible growth market in the United States, and Mercedes-Benz will be entering with battery products for utilities, commercial customers, and residential consumers by early 2017. They’re bringing on experienced talent to do it: The new head of Mercedes-Benz Energy Americas also headed up the U.S. arm of another German energy storage company, Sonnen. 

Mercedes-Benz is joining Tesla and Nissan in translating expertise in EV battery technology into energy storage solutions. “Mercedes-Benz energy storage units meet the highest safety and quality requirements,” the company said in a statement. “They are based on the same technology that Daimler has already used [a] thousandfold in electric and hybrid vehicles since 2012.”

Speaking of EVs, Reuters reports that GM is “cautiously ramping up” Chevrolet Bolt production at its factory north of Detroit, and is set to start delivering vehicles by the end of 2016. (Confused about the rhyming names? Check out the differences between the 2017 Chevy Bolt and the 2017 Chevy Volt here.) The new Bolt is meant to compete directly with the new Tesla Model 3, announced in April and expected to be on the roads by early next year. GM is actively partnering with ride sharing company Lyft to offer Bolts to drivers, even designing the car with thin front seats to make the back seat roomier for paying passengers.

From GM to GE! AEE member General Electric announced plans to work with Clean Line Energy Partners, a Texas-based HVDC company, to build a $2.5 billion wind power line [subscription required] leading from the windswept Oklahoma panhandle to Memphis, Tenn. From there, the Tennessee Valley Authority will distribute it to power distribution networks in the South and Southeast. The 720-mile-long power line is privately funded and already permitted, and expects to be transmitting wind-power output by 2020.

Another AEE member, EnergySavvy, recently raised $14 million to build out a consulting business to help utilities transition to a 21st century electricity system. The Series D round of funding will help the energy efficiency company build a broader suite of data management, cloud services, and support for its utility customers. The round of funding brought the company’s total funding to just over $26 million, according to Greentech Media. Notably, the round included funds from the investment arm of Great Plains Energy, the parent company of utility Kansas City Power & Light.

Finally, Walmart, another new AEE member, announced a plan this week to reduce operational emissions by 18% by 2025. The move comes in reply to consumer demand for better energy management by the big box retailer, according to E&E News [subscription required]. Walmart’s commitment is not new, and is detailed in a webinar hosted by AEE last year. During the webinar, David Ozment, Walmart’s director of energy, told us that the company was on the path to 100% renewable energy. “At Walmart we do have this mentality of everyday low cost, everyday low prices for our customers,” said Ozment. For a company as large as Walmart, energy is a top operating expense. Walmart has aggressive renewable energy goals, but for them to be truly sustainable over the long term, says Ozment, “they also have to make good business sense.” As Walmart, and many other corporate energy buyers, are finding, they do.

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Topics: News Update