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Asian Development Bank among contributors to Fluidic’s US$20m Southeast Asia push

Fluidic's zinc-air battery. Image: Fluidic.

Zinc-air battery-based energy storage system maker Fluidic Energy has received US$20 million in investment for projects in Southeast Asia from a private equity fund which includes the Asian Development Bank as a partner.

Asia Climate Partners (ACP), the private equity fund which has invested in Fluidic, includes Japanese financial services company ORIX and Dutch asset management firm Robeco – which is also owned by ORIX – as joint venture partners alongside the Asian Development Bank.

Headquartered in Arizona, USA, with production facilities in Indonesia, Fluidic claims its batteries are made with low cost, non-toxic materials. The company is particularly keen to target remote applications such as telecoms towers and off-grid and microgrid rural electrification projects.

Fluidic claims to have installed more than 100,000 batteries already, including 22MWh at 96 solar-plus-storage projects in the Indonesian archipelago which serve more than 100,000 people. Following the signing of an MoU earlier this year, Fluidic is also deploying some 45MWh to rural Madagascar, enabling more than 400,000 people to have access to energy. The company has also signed an agreement with heavy machinery maker Caterpillar for solar-plus-storage projects and was selected as a supplier to US utility Duke Energy’s first “non-demonstration” microgrid earlier this month.

Focus on Asia

The latest investment, it is hoped, will be used to enable increased access to power via renewables, thus limiting new fossil fuel plants and replacing costly and polluting diesel generators, which are often the only source of electricity in remote areas. Fluidic said in a press release that around half of the world’s 1.2 billion people with little or no access to electricity live in Asia.

“Although we were founded in the US and offer solutions for markets such as telecom, grid firming, and critical power, we immediately recognised the positive impact we could have in the Asia-Pacific region,” Fluidic CEO Steve Scharnhorst said.

“We focused much of our commercialisation strategy on Asia for the first several years simply because there was a problem that we knew we could help fix.”

Fluidic claims its total system solutions, which include the zinc-air hybrid batteries, are suitable for long duration storage applications and can withstand harsh environmental conditions. The company says its microgrid solutions can offer days, rather than hours of storage.

“Energy storage is a key enabler of widespread decentralized renewable energy generation and we see enormous potential in our core countries like India, Indonesia and the Philippines, that have high penetration of diesel generation and low electrification rates,” ACP managing director Duarte Da Silva said.

“We are excited about this investment for many reasons, including: commercial traction of Fluidic's product and its proven ability to deliver in diverse environments and harsh conditions; competitive position in its target markets; and the team's commitment to high environmental standards and improving lives through its business offering.”

Tags: zinc-air battery, microgrids, rural electrification, asia, caterpillar, fluidic energy, southeast asia