Energy storage: Million dollar acquisitions highlight sector growth

Aggreko and Wärtsilä snap up energy storage companies as part of a move into new markets.

The move to a decentralised, digitally networked zero-carbon emissions energy has been progressing in Europe and around the world. To support this transition, companies are adding storage to the backup and onsite mix.

Growth in the energy storage market is expanding from the US to new regions including the UK, Asia and Australia.

A recent example is Scotland’s Aggreko, a provider of conventional mobile off-grid and grid-connected diesel and other fossil fuel-fired generators, which has bought Germany’s battery energy storage systems and smart microgrid developers, Younicos for US$51m.

Another example is the US$170m acquisition of US energy storage company Greensmith Energy Management Systems by Wärtsilä, a Finnish company that manufactures and services power sources and other equipment in the energy market.

Younicos and Aggreko acquisition

Younicos’ advanced lithium-ion and sodium-nickel-chloride (NaNiCl) battery-based energy storage systems (BESS), distributed renewable energy resource management and grid-integration technologies have been groundbreaking for the development of zero-carbon emissions microgrids.

These include the TILOS zero-carbon emissions microgrid on the Greek Aegean island it was named after, the smart island microgrid on the Portuguese Azores’ island of Graciosa and the Peña Station NEXT solar PV-BESS microgrid adjacent to Denver International Airport.

Younicos has installed approximately 200MW of advanced BESS capacity and has been described by Aggreko as a “pioneer of smart energy solutions based on battery storage.”

For Aggreko, the acquisition was necessary in order to adapt to changing global energy markets which are becoming more decentralised and digital. The company statement explained that as renewables penetration increases, intermittency becomes a more difficult issue to manage across grid systems.

It also highlights that the integration and control of thermal, renewable and battery systems will be increasingly required to ensure power stability and reliability are maintained.

Aggreko added: “Off-grid and microgrid energy solutions are ever more integrating renewable generation, whilst industrial and commercial customers are also taking advantage of opportunities for renewable integration and demand-side management.”

The aim of the acquisition, according to Aggreko, is to open up “new markets and provide our customers around the world with a reliable, cheaper and cleaner source of energy.”

Stephen Prince, CEO of Younicos, said in a statement: “Batteries are an economically attractive and reliable asset which will play an increasing role as we transition from today’s energy market to the energy market of the future.

"Integration and management of multiple distributed energy sources will be necessary to optimise energy systems and deliver customers with greater stability at a lower economic and environmental cost.”

Greensmith and Wärtsilä Energy Solutions deal

Greensmith will operate as a business unit within Wärtsilä Energy Solutions providing both stand-alone energy storage as well as hybridised energy systems, control software, and integration capabilities.

Greensmith has integrated and installed over 60 grid-scale systems including an 80MWh turnkey system recently deployed in California in under 4 months to resolve a capacity emergency.

The company provides a full range of capabilities - from full turn-key solutions to design and integration services and a fifth generation software package (GEMS) that supports multiple energy and power applications.

Over the last four years, Greensmith has deployed five grid-scale systems in the PJM frequency regulation market (Pennsylvania, Jersey, Maryland power pool), and serves a growing number of independent power producers, investor-owned utilities, and engineering procurement and construction companies around the world.

The acquisition will help Wärtsilä expand its offerings in the energy storage market globally as well as position itself as a premier energy system integrator.

When Wärtsilä engine plants are optimised with energy storage, new sources of value can be offered to customers, as well as partners.

"The acquisition of Greensmith positions Wärtsilä as a global leader in energy system integration and hybrid solutions", said Javier Cavada, President of Wärtsilä Energy Solutions.

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