AES says solar, storage teams will benefit from investing in Tendril’s new DERs company, Uplight

Colorado-based start-ups Simple Energy and Tendril have merged to create Uplight, a one-stop shop software platform for utilities' customer-facing software needs, with ESS industry player AES Corporation taking a stake in the new company as a "strategic partner".

The merger with Simple Energy is the latest in a rapid period of growth for Tendril, precipitated by securing a majority investment from American private equity firm Rubicon Technology Partners in December 2018. The home energy management start-up has since acquired FirstFuel Software, Energy Savvy and EEme.

The new company claims to be the first to unite all key solutions for delivery, management and optimisation of the customer energy experience, by bringing together leaders in utility-branded marketplaces, demand-side management, analytics and utility customer experience personalisation.

Uplight already provides software to more than 75 utility clients across 40 states, according to a company statement.

Rubicon Technology Partners will be the majority stakeholder in the combined company, while AES Corporation also has a significant stake; the Fortune 500 company was Simple Energy’s largest shareholder and made a US$53 million strategic investment in the new company as part of the merger. 

The energy storage technology provider and system integrator emailed with a statement that it has already used Uplight's platforms in demand response and energy efficiency programmes and that "the AES teams that develop community solar and energy storage solutions will be working with Uplight to enhance their solution offerings around those technologies".

Adrian Tuck, formerly CEO of Tendril, will be CEO at Uplight.

Also this week, British software company Smarter Grid Solutions (SGS) has also been finetuning its offering. It unveiled the advanced version of its popular distributed energy resource management system (DERMS) software ANM Strata on June 12. Equipped with advanced tools for data analytics, visualisation and application programming interfaces (APIs), ANM Strata 2.0 has the ability to connect to other software systems at utilities and the operators of distributed energy resources (DERs).

SGS said its new technology has been designed to facilitate the transformation of distribution network operators into distribution system operators (DSOs) in response to the growing demand for renewable energy, electric vehicles and energy storage. The second-generation software has already been successfully deployed on pilot projects in the US, UK and Germany, SGS claims.

As the Uplight-AES deal perhaps also illustrates, software and other platforms to integrate, manage and control DERs are becoming increasingly important. Smarter Grid Solutions exec director and co-founder Graham Ault told that DERMS (distributed energy resource management system) solutions are vital for utilities to connect and manage these resources "as the energy system transitions to low carbon and more decentralisation".

"DERMS is a digital solution that integrates data from power network assets to a control platform to increase the penetration of low carbon energy and operate new energy assets more optimally. Energy storage can be managed by DERMS to provide constraint relief, system services and market revenues to battery operators," including the ability to "gain visibility and controllability of individual and fleets of assets, schedule, optimise, interface to market and dispatch their assets" 

Swiss-Swedish technology company ABB launched a portfolio of power quality and energy storage solutions in mid-July. Source: ABB.

Swiss-Swedish technology company ABB launched a portfolio of power quality and energy storage solutions in mid-July. Source: ABB.

ABB's new tools of the trade following inverter business exit

In related news, Swiss-Swedish technology company ABB launched a portfolio of power quality and energy storage solutions this week.

The new portfolio, ABB Ability, comprises five solutions: PQflexC, a variable reactive power controller; PQdynaC, an ultra-fast reactive power and unbalance controller; PQactiF, an active harmonic filter; PQStorl, a battery storage inverter with power quality functions; and PQoptiM, which controls and monitors power quality parameters.

ABB said the products are aimed at the increasing need to accommodate DERs such as solar and wind onto energy networks, with growing demand from the transport space including EVs and electric trains and in data centre energy use. 

The product family can be operated and controlled on cloud-connected user platforms – enabling real-time access of data.

ABB Ability aims to improve grid stability, power quality and energy efficiency at a time when electrical grids cater to an increasingly eclectic mix of energy sources and types of consumer. The launch comes shortly after the company announced its exit from the solar inverter space, to a reported loss of US$470 million. 

Additional reporting by Andy Colthorpe 

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