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SK Group companies enter energy storage joint venture with US developer Apex Clean Energy

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SK Gas and SK D&D, two companies in the South Korean SK Group conglomerate, have entered a joint venture (JV) for the ownership of energy storage facilities in the US with Apex Clean Energy.

Renewables developer Apex Clean Energy officially announced the JV yesterday (17 January). Called SA Grid Solutions, it will be 60% funded by the SK Group companies and 40% funded by Charlottesville, Virginia-headquartered Apex Clean Energy.

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The developer will manage construction, operations and optimisation of energy storage projects SA Grid Solutions undertakes. That includes Great Kiskadee Storage, a grid-scale battery energy storage system (BESS) under construction in Hidalgo, Texas and due to begin commercial operations this year.

The JV’s first project will be connected to Texas’ ERCOT grid and is a 100MW, 2-hour duration (200MWh) asset. First announced by Apex together with BESS system integrator Powin Energy in May 2023, Great Kiskadee Storage’s BESS equipment will be manufactured, supplied and integrated by Powin, using its Centipede modular BESS platform and StackOS battery management system (BMS).

At that time, another Texas BESS project was announced by the pair, Angelo Storage, colocated with a 195MW solar PV plant and also set to be supplied and integrated by Powin. Powin and Apex also worked together separately on a smaller project for IKEA owner Ingka Group, announced as completed in September 2023.

While Apex Clean Energy referred to another project slated for purchase by the JV, being of similar size and duration to Great Kiskadee, its release yesterday did not specify or make mention of Angelo Storage.

Apex Clean Energy CEO Ken Young claimed his company has a development-stage pipeline of more than 13GW of BESS projects across the US. The collaboration with SK Gas and SK D&D would help “swiftly accelerate” its deployment, Young said. In addition to energy storage, Apex is also involved in utility-scale wind and solar PV, distributed generation and green fuels.

Major conglomerate’s steps into battery-driven economy

SK D&D is a development company focused on real estate and renewable energy, while SK Gas is a major liquefied petroleum gas provider diversifying its interest into areas like hydrogen and various ‘net zero solutions’.  

There are more than175 companies in the SK Group, headquartered in South Korean capital Seoul. Among the country’s largest and most influential ‘chaebol’ conglomerates along with the likes of Samsung.

Its other subsidiaries include SK One, an electric vehicle (EV) battery maker developing 180GWh of annual battery production capacity in the US together with its partners and SK Innovation, a holding company involved in areas including petroleum and clean energy technologies that also makes battery cells and again is building battery production capacity in the US.

There is also SK E&S, a renewables, energy solutions, hydrogen and LNG project company, which in 2021 acquired US grid-scale BESS developer, Key Capture Energy (KCE). KCE also has assets operating in ERCOT, as well as in Upstate New York where it is headquartered and a development pipeline that includes projects in the Midwest MISO service territory.

SK Group is also a shareholder in Lunar Energy, a distributed generation technology platform company, which counts US residential solar and storage leasing major Sunrun among its other investors.

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