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Fluence opens system-level battery storage test facility in Pennsylvania


Energy storage hardware and software technology provider Fluence has opened its third global testing facility, in Pennsylvania, US.

The new product testing centre will be the primary location for system-level tests of different configurations of Fluence energy storage products. The company said this type of testing provides quality assurance that is crucial in the development of products through different iterations.

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Fluence is currently on its sixth-generation energy storage solution. Based around stacking the Fluence Cube battery energy storage system (BESS) units, the company has taken to developing more standardised, modular solutions.

A major driving principle behind that approach is that the more that BESS equipment can be preconfigured and fully tested even before it goes out into the field, the less expensive and time-consuming onsite work needs to be done.

It also reduces the amount of project-by-project customisation and tailoring work that has characterised the early years of the grid-connected battery storage industry, with the company hoping it will enable the rollout of systems at scale, and profitably.

The company’s latest quarterly financial results are thought to be due for release in the next few days. On the occasion of its previous quarterly announcement in August, Fluence chief product officer Rebecca Boll discussed another role for the new test centre in an earnings call with analysts.

Over the years Fluence has received some substandard components from certain suppliers and the Pennsylvania facility will be used to test out key equipment like battery cells and inverters from a range of vendors, Boll had said at the time.

“We believe this facility will be critical to fully testing our products leading up to product launch, as well as supporting product commissioning and field teams in providing world-class support to customers,” Boll said this week.

In August, the company announced that it will build a contract manufacturing facility to assemble products in Utah, US. While an existing factory in Vietnam will continue producing the Cube, the US site will be used for customising and configuring the products on their way to North American customers.

Part of the strategy behind putting more facilities in the US is to bring production closer to end demand and help Fluence control what elements of the supply chain it can. That’s particularly important given the constraint challenges the industry continues to see on cell and other component supply.

Fluence senior director of manufacturing Peter Silveira told about the drive for “regionalisation” of production, in an interview with this site conducted as the Utah factory was announced. A similar move in Europe is expected within the next couple of years, Silveira said.

Silveira also said the company expects the Inflation Reduction Act’s incentives on both domestic production and deployment of battery storage to boost demand to the point that major suppliers will accelerate their plans to make battery cells in the US.

The company continues to look globally for opportunities too, having opened a technology centre in India to support its product strategy, not just in the Indian market where the company is seeking to establish a presence through a major joint venture (JV), but worldwide. Its other two labs meanwhile are in the US and Germany.’ publisher Solar Media will host the 5th Energy Storage Summit USA, 28-29 March 2023 in Austin, Texas. Featuring a packed programme of panels, presentations and fireside chats from industry leaders focusing on accelerating the market for energy storage across the country. For more information, go to the website.

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