Energy Storage News logo

AES and Siemens’ energy storage JV Fluence launches solar-plus-storage platform, financing

Fluence's new containerised Sunflex platform. Image: Fluence.

AES Energy Storage and Siemens, which between them have delivered 500MW of energy storage worldwide already, will target 160 different countries and build a 400MWh battery system in California through new joint venture Fluence.

Fluence, launched softly in July last year and running operations since last month, announced several details this week, including the launch of financing options for customers and a new technology platform for solar-plus-storage to complement AES’ Advancion platform and Siemens’ Siestorage, which will also continue to be produced and sold.  

Aiming to bring together the technology, development and financing capabilities of its two parent companies, Fluence is running a “comprehensive financing programme” with Siemens Financial Services (SFS). It will offer leasing and project finance for proven projects which utilise any of Fluence’s three energy storage technology platforms.

Siemens Financial Services CEO Roland Chalons-Browne said customers could be helped to realise their energy storage project goals “regardless of size or region” and claimed this capability is unique in the market today.

Meanwhile, Fluence’s CEO said customers would be offered a “wide array of capital solutions ranging from small-ticket leases to large-scale project financing and everything in between.”

“Financing is often viewed as an obstacle; however by partnering with SFS, we are simplifying energy storage capital investments for many of our customers, allowing them to move their storage projects forward,” Stephen Coughlin said in a statement.

SFS already has a track record in energy storage financing, having helped municipalities in Germany accommodate frequency regulation projects ranging from 5MW to 8MW in size, has begun offering ‘no-money-down’ deals for C&I customers in the UK and provided financing for the aforementioned 400MWh project in Los Alamitos, California.

Jan Teichmann, Fluence’s vice president of global markets, today told Energy-Storage.News that it sees the ability to scale up and create a high volume of projects and offer a wide range of applications as key to success in the emerging energy storage industry.

“To be successful in this marketplace, our view is that providers need to have a high volume of projects to benefit from sourcing at scale, cost competitive solutions, a broad range of applications to serve customer needs and a track record of execution in delivering to an extensive customer base,” Teichmann said.

Bringing all of these factors together with AES and Siemens’ accumulated expertise and experience and combining the two companies’ resources according to Teichmann, and the newly created energy storage provider “will aggressively expand the business backed by the financial support of the two parent organisations”.

"The creation of Fluence is the latest stage of investment in energy storage by both Siemens and AES, spanning over a decade," Fluence's Jan Teichmann said.

Sunflex technology platform

While AES and Siemens both obviously have a proven track record in energy storage, including working with solar developers, and each has a grid-scale lithium battery-based technology platform product on offer, the newest platform from Fluence, Sunflex, is the first dedicated solution from the pair aimed squarely at the solar-plus-storage market.

Fluence claims Sunflex Energy Storage could enable the sale of up to 50% more solar into the grid per installation while smoothing the variable output of solar generators and enabling the storage of energy into evening and night-time.

The ‘50% increase’ claim is based on the fact that installing Sunflex could give solar power plant owners the ability to add more PV panels to an existing project without making changes to the grid interconnection point. Adding energy storage to an existing site, as well as making the solar capacity dispatchable, also offers potential new revenue streams from providing frequency regulation and other grid services to utilities and grid operators.

Inside AES' Advancion grid-scale energy storage solution, which, like Siemens' Siestorage systems, will continue to be sold along with the newer Sunflex Energy Storage. Image: AES Energy Storage.

Fluence to support projects that are in the pipeline or already operating

Serving both AES and Siemens projects already contracted and underway, Fluence will also seek new project opportunities. The new company set out a brief list of the projects it will be executing or supporting, which are at various stages of development:

The largest will be the 100MW / 400MWh Los Alamitos project. AES Energy Storage signed a contract for that installation with utility Southern California Edison in 2015, to be completed by 2022 in Long Beach, California. A 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) is in place with the utility, while the facility will be “tied to a new 1,284MW combined cycle natural gas generator”, Fluence said. The project is replacing capacity from power plants built in the 1960s and was first announced shortly after the brokering of a 1GW supply deal between AES and lithium battery maker LG Chem.

Another California utility, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), is building 40MW of four-hour duration energy storage, again providing capacity to meet local requirements. Fluence will also support the operation of an existing 37.5MW of four-hour duration energy storage systems in SDG&E’s service area.

Three projects will be executed for Arizona Public Service, another US utility, including one in which costly transmission and distribution line upgrades – around 20 miles of cabling, poles and wires – will be replaced by strategically-sited energy storage systems and associated infrastructure.     

Six projects which are already underway in Germany, for introduction into the country’s frequency regulation markets which are seen as vital for reducing the cost of balancing the grid, particularly in areas with a high share of renewable energy.

The two 10MW projects in the Dominican Republic built by AES subsidiary AES Dominicana, which continued to operate and provide grid support during Hurricanes Irma and Maria, will have their ongoing operations supported by Fluence.

Stay up to date with the latest news, analysis and opinions. Sign up here to the Energy-Storage.news Newsletter.