Month: May 2019

‘World’s largest’ renewable energy storage project to launch in Utah from MHPS

Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) and Magnum Development, owner and operator of the only known “Gulf Coast” style domal-quality salt formation in the western US, have launched an initiative that will see the start of the development for the Advanced Clean Energy Storage (ACES) project in central Utah. Tabbed by MHPS as the world’s largest project of its kind, the ACES initiative will develop 1GW of renewable energy storage.

Initially developing enough energy storage to meet the needs of 150,000 homes for an entire year, the ACES initiative will deploy four types of clean energy storage at utility scale, including renewable hydrogen, compressed air energy storage, large-scale flow batteries and solid oxide fuel cells.

The ACES project will engineer, finance, construct, own, and operate facilities that will be located in Millard County, Utah. Over the coming weeks and months, additional strategic and financial partners will be invited to participate in the development of the initiative.

Paul Browning, president and CEO of MHPS Americas, said: “For 20 years, we’ve been reducing carbon emissions of the US. power grid using natural gas in combination with renewable power to replace retiring coal-fired power generation. In California and other states in the western United States, which will soon have retired all of their coal-fired power generation, we need the next step in decarbonization. Mixing natural gas and storage, and eventually using 100% renewable storage, is that next step.

“The technologies we are deploying will store electricity on time scales from seconds to seasons of the year. For example, when we add gas turbines powered with renewable hydrogen to a hydrogen storage salt-dome, we have a solution that stores and generates electricity with zero carbon emissions.”

Craig Broussard, CEO of Magnum, added: “Central Utah is the ideal location for this project, and Utah is a business friendly state for projects like this. Magnum’s site adjacent to the Intermountain Power Project is positioned to take full advantage of existing regional electricity grid connections, fully developed transportation infrastructure, ample solar and wind development capacity, a skilled workforce currently transitioning away from coal, and, of course, the unique salt dome opportunity.

“Magnum has the below-ground technologies necessary to store energy at utility scale, while MHPS has the above-ground technologies such as hydrogen-fired gas turbines, compressed air storage, solid oxide fuel cells and battery storage technology, to supply electricity at grid scale. With the ACES initiative, we will dramatically accelerate the vision of a western renewable energy hub that we launched over a decade ago.”

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US bills to accelerate storage ‘well designed’ but delays still expected

Two bills that have been introduced in the US to support and accelerate the development and deployment of energy storage are enjoying cross-party support and look likely to pass unopposed, an analyst has said.

The Better Energy Storage Technology (BEST) Act and accompanying Promoting Grid Storage Act of 2019 were introduced just over a week ago by two groups of US Senators, on both Republican and Democrat sides of the Senate.

BEST would “support grid-scale energy storage research and development and improve the efficiency of the nation’s electric grid, while helping to align research efforts on energy storage technologies,” a release from the office of Susan Collins, the Republican Senator of Maine who authored the bill along with six others, said.

“Next-generation energy storage devices will help enhance the efficiency and reliability of our electric grid, reduce energy costs, and promote the adoption of renewable resources. Our bipartisan legislation would help catalyse the development of this technology that holds great promise in the fight against climate change by supporting clean energy generation, including wind and solar,” Collins said.

What each bill would do

BEST would focus grid-scale energy storage R&D onto a variety of possible technologies and applications:

  • ‘Highly flexible power systems’ with six hours’ storage duration as a minimum, with a lifetime of 8,000 charge and discharge cycles at full output, over a 20-year operational lifetime.
  • Long duration storage systems with 10 to 100 hours of storage duration, again with 8,000 or more cycles available at full output, for a 20-year lifetime. Also long duration 10-100 hour systems that can handle 1,500 cycles are being targeted.
  • Seasonal energy storage that can reach durations of weeks and even months.
  • Support for up to five demonstration projects that could advance the commercialisation of grid-scale storage technologies.

The programme would also be authorised to spend US$60 million each year between 2020 and 2024, while also directing the US Department of Energy to develop cost targets and a strategic plan for energy storage, accelerating testing and validation of associated technologies through the US’ National Laboratories network. Finally, the BEST Act would also require research efforts to be coordinated and aligned to produce “commercially viable storage systems”, with the DOE, National Laboratories, federal agencies and end users all taking part.

Collins was also among those backing the other act, introduced by Senator Tina Smith and Representative Sean Casten. While Smith and Casten are both Democrats, once again the bill enjoyed bipartisan support.

The Promoting Grid Storage Act of 2019 would “boost research and development of cutting-edge technologies to increase energy storage capabilities for America’s electric grid and enable the expanded use of clean energy,” a press release from Tina Smith’s office said.

Smith made a statement similar to Collin’s own statement on the BEST Act, highlighting that the bill “will help significantly improve our collective efforts to store energy by increasing energy storage research and expanding the deployment of energy storage technologies”.

The ‘Promoting… Act’ would authorise US$1.05 billion in funding to be divided up over five years of the programme running. This would include improving the coordination and collaboration of DOE efforts in energy storage research, which Smith’s office described as “currently fragmented” across numerous different programmes. It would also fund grants from the energy department to help private and public entities to “expand their energy storage capabilities”, while also providing grants for piloting energy storage system projects that could take promising new technologies from the laboratory into the market.

Optimism vs dysfunction

The bills have a good chance of succeeding, Navigant Research analyst Alex Eller told Energy-Storage.news, although given what appear to be high levels of “dysfunction” within the government and the administration of Donald Trump, it would be easy to imagine their actual passing could take some time.

Both bills are “well designed to actually be approved”, Eller said, not least because both are “relatively modest in their goals and budgets” but also because they have gained approval from both parties as well as from Senate and from the House of Representatives.

“Given how divided the two legislative bodies are, I think it’s a great sign that these bills have support in both groups and both parties,” Eller said.

It isn’t clear what the schedule would be for the bills to be voted on however and therefore it is not clear when they would be approved, the analyst added, before adding his own caveat that there could be “major delays before this and any other meaningful legislation actually progresses” due to what appears to be dysfunction at the upper levels of the administration. Despite his take on the bills themselves being firmly positive, Eller admitted to pessimism over this last aspect of the undertaking.  

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Power and capacity will be provided by Aggreko’s 4.5MWh Texas ‘legacy’ project

A large-scale battery storage system will be built in Texas for the US’ biggest electric utility cooperative, to time-shift solar-generated loads and provide grid services to transmission operator ERCOT.

Mobile energy solutions provider Aggreko, which recently took over German-US energy storage pioneers Younicos and incorporated it as a division of the parent company, announced to Energy-Storage.news yesterday that it has signed an agreement for a 2.25MW / 4.5MWh battery storage project with Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC).

According to Karim Wazni, managing director of Aggreko Microgrid and Storage Solutions (essentially formerly Younicos), the cooperative picked his company out for the project due to its existing track record of “active and successful participation in the ERCOT market”. Aggreko has already executed five battery projects in Texas, including the ongoing updates and upgrades of the large-scale battery system at Notrees Wind Farm.

The project is notable for two reasons: firstly that in addition to providing power services to ERCOT markets, the battery storage system, which should be capable of storing and discharging 2.25MW of power for two hours, will also provide energy capacity to the local network. As a general trend, customers for large-scale energy storage systems are now seeking this longer duration energy storage as well as the ability to use batteries for high powered, short duration applications, Saft’s Michael Lippert pointed out in a recent interview.

The second notable aspect for Aggreko Microgrid and Storage Solutions is that unlike other recent projects, and the projects it is currently working on going forwards, this project for PEC is an asset sale, as opposed to the mobile power ‘as-a-service’ or energy storage ‘as-a-service’ business model the company is rapidly becoming known for.

“In this case, the storage project is an asset sale, which is what the cooperative was looking for, not an as-a-service offer,” An Aggreko spokesperson told Energy-Storage.news yesterday.

“Discussions on this project started a year or more ago, included recently signed state legislation to get to the finish line (due to Texas market rules regarding storage), and is what could be called a ‘legacy’ sale,” the representative said.

‘Value is in the combination of technologies, in modular and scalable solutions’

In an interview with Aggreko’s Karim Wazni, some of which will be published as a video feature on the Energy-Storage.news YouTube channel in days to come, the MD emphasised this move to a an “as-a-service” model and said that the EPC model under which the company executed other projects such as the Roosecote 49MW battery in England for Centrica, completed about half a year ago, is one Aggreko Microgrid and Storage Solutions is moving away from.

Wazni did, however, say that “we’re moving towards a service model, but we’re still very interested to see what value we can bring to grid-connected markets…. We’re looking to being open to all offers where we can combine [resources including batteries and solar] and add value by the combination of our products that are modular and scalable”.

Going forwards, Aggreko is expected to unveil a large project in New York State soon which will provide National Grid with solutions to defer spending large sums expanding transmission and distribution (T&D) infrastructure in the next few days.

“We will be inaugurating a plant in New York State in two weeks, it’s a National Grid project where we’re providing 2MW of power for two hours, and that will be able to deliver peak shaving services to a substation,” Wazni said, adding that even these sorts of larger infrastructure projects could be done ‘as-a-service’.

“These markets are going to a service model as well, we believe, as they are quite suited in nature, there’s a temporary need to relieve the grid and the grid gets built up to the point where it makes sense to increase the capacity by a significant amount,” Wazni said.

“We want to explore that market with utilities as a partner because by providing storage at the bottlenecks of the grid fits well with the modularity and flexibility that we have in our business model.”

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Home P2P trading frontrunner Ensync’s assets up for sale

Assets are up for sale following the bankruptcy of EnSync, a networked smart home solutions provider from the US which has been using battery energy storage to aggregate connected systems for energy trading and other services.

The company, which was dedicated to creating renewable and smart energy systems at low cost, was behind the sale of Hawaii’s first solar-plus-storage PPA in 2016 and last year started off a peer-to-peer (P2P) energy trading project at a low income housing complex, also in Hawaii and also backed by a PPA.

Despite the company sounding bullish about its prospects when interviewed for this site in September last year, in March the company made an 8-K filing to the US SEC for Chapter 128 bankruptcy. Having gone into receivership, the 8-K made it clear that no assets or operations will remain in EnSync’s hands following the receivership proceedings.

“It is also anticipated that there will be little or no dividend from the Receiver to holders of the common stock; therefore, the common stock has little or no value and trading the common stock during the pendency of the Chapter 128 Proceeding will be highly speculative and will pose substantial risks,” the filing said.

Energy-Storage.news has received information pertaining to the sale, which says that the company’s “innovative and differentiated technologies designed to deliver the least expensive, highest value and most reliable electricity” were served into the three main market segments in the “renewable energy space”: residential, commercial and industrial (C&I) and ‘independent’ utility energy systems.

The letter, sent from court receiver John M Wirth said that the company, formerly known as ZBB Energy, was founded in 1998 in Wisconsin and now also holds ownership interests in Hawaii and China. Wirth cited “increasingly difficult market conditions and increased IP and engineering costs” as the reason for a “working capital shortfall” at the company.

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Corporate takeover: commitment or compromise? Part 2

The growth potential of energy storage has drawn interest from some of the biggest names in the power business and beyond. With the trend set to continue, Andy Colthorpe explores how three recent acquisition targets are faring under new ownership. Taken from the pages of PV Tech Power Vol.19, Part 1 of this article was published on the site last week.

Business models and scalability

Taken at face value, these are acquisitions in the truest sense. Large companies have spotted that rather than force their way up a steep learning curve by trying to do it all themselves in-house, it is better in some cases to acquire expertise and technol­ogy that fits into their plans. Whether that’s today’s plans in the case of Wartsila and Aggreko, or from a longer-term play perspective in the case of Shell and Sonnen. Big players are seeking not only expertise and technology, but those things have to fit into scalable and viable business models.

Aggreko’s Dan Ibbetson, says that post-acquisition, it wants to use Younicos’ decade of experience with battery systems to deliver complete bundled solutions, in this case for commercial and industrial (C&I) customers. He also cites the mining sector, data centres and cheap LNG-powered Caribbean Islands as huge segments of market potential perhaps previously not readily accessible to Younicos. Aggreko’s business model of renting equipment and solutions to customers is a perfect fit for the ‘energy storage as-a-service’ offerings that Younicos was already delivering to its customers, Ibbetson says. It has also enabled Aggreko to tout new product lines including mobile containerised solar-plus-storage, also for rent.

“You come to us, you want energy, we’ll have a discussion about the right mix of solar and thermal and then the kind of batteries that you need to integrate those two and then it’s all in one contract. You don’t have three different suppliers. Then all the kit is designed in a way that it fits really well together.”

The all-in-one rental model can poten­tially work well for both energy system provider and customer. The customer is no longer burdened with a high Capex, while what was formerly known as Younicos is able to leverage the balance sheet of its new parent to execute projects on an ongoing and presumably increasingly ambitious basis. Apricum consultant Florian Mayr cites the example of an energy inten­sive but temporary mining site which might be in operation for less than 10 years. The owners of that site need power, but they don’t need to buy a system.

“Having a storage solution which is more energy as a service and not being sold and needs to be amortised over 20 years but can also be moved to a different mining location, that could help a lot [in persuad­ing customers to try it],” Mayr says.

The role technology plays

A couple of years ago, as the importance of battery and energy management and control software became clear, Younicos, Greensmith and others were selling their software platforms as a kind of side-line to their more complete system integration businesses. For both companies, this has changed, not inspired by their respective takeovers but coinciding with a wider market shift. That shift being a recognition that the system integrators’ core expertise is in delivering a complete, working system.

“I don’t believe that in this industry, there’s a strong case for a software-only business model,” Greensmith alumnus and now Wartsila’s Andy Tang says.

“The biggest challenge you run into as a software-only business is that the solution the customer is looking at is a system: it’s the total thing that’s working and any time there’s any problem, whether it be a hardware or software problem, it’s on the software vendor. A hardware problem shouldn’t be, but because it’s viewed as a system, the hardware problem becomes the responsibility of the software vendor. You don’t really have control over having specified the equipment and if you don’t have control over having the commercial relationship with the hardware equipment provider, you have no leverage to help fix the situation.”

Not only that but with Greensmith’s GEMS software platform, and those made by rivals, if deployed to manage energy storage’s operation and performance at the heart of the energy system, it is better for the software platform to run the overall system itself.

De-emphasising certain aspects of their existing strategies and in Younicos’ case making several pivots over time have been key to the survival of all of the companies pre-acquisition. Tang says that in addition to the decisions around software, Greensmith also had to know not to get too hungry for new projects during the early ‘mini-boom’ in energy storage projects from 2013 to 2015, although the company’s software ended up in around 30% of projects deployed the US that year.

In the meantime Sonnen is given scope to expand the existing base of sales of its systems and subscriptions to its services in Germany, as well as the US and particularly Australia, where the company just prior to acquisition announced the construction of a local factory to enter domestic content eligibility for South Australia’s Home Battery Scheme.

The appeal of the Australian market is something of a no-brainer at the moment, with Sonnen’s German domestic rival Senec also launching its Australian division (with Senec also in post-takeover mode after a 2018 buyout by utility EnBW) this year. But in terms of manufacturing, does the backing of a fossil fuel supermajor give Sonnen aspirations to fully vertically integrate into battery manufacturing as well? While Ostermann says system assembly and manufacturing could continue to be integrated, he is highly doubtful on the latter point.

The core focus is on the battery and energy management and control software and hardware in terms of creating a self-contained home energy system. Then, as the company has shown in becoming the first home storage participant in Germany’s Primary Control Reserve (PCR) ancillary services market, turning that into something that can become part of an orchestra of virtual power plants (VPPs) and communities of energy sharers and traders on the grid. That’s not to say the choice of battery is not important.

“Sonnen decided in the beginning of the company history in 2010 to focus on lithium iron phosphate (LFP) chemistry for two simple reasons: the first is that being a residential player, safety was extremely important for us and LFP is the safest cell chemistry you can find within the lithium-ion cell family, regarding thermal runaway – no smoke, no fire, no explosions, no crazy stuff like that, and that was key for us,” Ostermann says.

“Secondly, lithium iron phosphate has the highest cycle life. Always given that you use a decent quality [cell] of course. This choice has set us a little bit apart from other players in this industry, whereas now we recognise that more and more of our competitors, laughing at us in the past about this choice, are now also orienting themselves toward LFP, which I find interesting!”

Ostermann also says that not using higher energy density nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) cells also frees Sonnen from some of the supply chain issues which struck energy storage companies reliant on the same cells used in electric vehicles last year.

All roads lead to home

There’s an understandable excitement at these previously almost ‘alien’ and futuristic companies being taken over by such significant names, but why these three? And why now? And can being part of a much larger ‘mothership’, as one interviewee described it, bring the scale and reach our industry needs – that our planet needs – to truly play a key role in effecting the global energy transition?

Sonnen’s Christoph Ostermann certainly thinks so. Back when Shell led an invest­ment round in the Bavaria-headquartered start-up in mid-2018, Ostermann told me that the involvement of the world’s major energy companies was a positive for the “clean energy future”, a view that he stands behind even more emphatically since the company became a part of the Royal Dutch Shell Group.

It’s a little surreal to think of a company many of whose employees still live in a renewable energy-powered village in the remote southern German countryside, that touted energy independence from the big utilities as its selling point to many of its customers, is now dependent – in the long-term at least – on the utility ambitions of an oil company. As Ostermann reels off a list of geographies that could open beyond the company’s core territories in Europe, the US and Australia in the near future, it might almost be easier to compile a much shorter list of territories, which the Sonnen CEO does not think will have a residential energy storage market before long.

“Japan is a market we will look into closely in the near future. We’re also looking at other geographies in Asia, such as the Philippines, which we will look at more intensively in the future. There are a couple of countries in Africa, so, just to give some examples, there’s Nigeria or South Africa, where we have preliminary plans to enter these markets. Then you have new markets in Latin America, where we’re looking at the moment. At the end of the day, due to the fact that renewable energy generation is already price competitive all over the world, and storage prices come down more and more, I deeply believe that we will see a lot more geographies in the future that turn out to be residential storage markets.”

Greensmith Energy’s systems on the other hand have been supplied in eight countries to date (80 systems) and Andy Tang predicts that in a year’s time the number of countries will have more than doubled.

“The growth we’re seeing because of Wartsila’s sales organisation selling our energy storage, we expect that to really, really, grow incredibly. Energy storage I think is still in its infancy as a market but I think now is the time to enter these new geographic markets that are opening up,” Tang says.

It isn’t just the geographies; it’s also the range of projects and systems the company is now integrating batteries with that’s increasing. In tandem with that, the number of different applications the systems perform increases and so too does the complexity of managing the entire energy system that is created.

“If you think about how people are beginning to use energy storage, there’s a lot of single-application deployments around the world, where energy storage is thought of as one or two things: peak shifting or smoothing out renewables. A lot of our customers are applying four or five different applications out of our software to get the maximum outcome. Not just from storage, but from software,” Tang says.

Commitments not compromises

Whether their takeovers are judged a success will all come down to the value each of these companies can provide to their new owners, although obviously they will be judged on other metrics too, such as their contribution to decarbonisa­tion. Apricum’s Florian Mayr says that with US$1-2 billion invested per year through Shell’s New Energy Ventures VC wing the company’s “magnitude of investment is too much to be considered ‘greenwash’”. However, to put it in context, Shell is nonetheless spending perhaps tenfold that amount on oil exploration activities still and is “definitely not exiting the oil business today”, Mayr says.

The flexibility energy storage can bring to the renewable energy transition is critical on both an environment and long-term economically sustainable level. Whether that means the continued acquisition of smart new companies or the development of their own products, big players are swooping.

As Mayr says, it’s likely that for costs associated with residential storage to continue falling and “a widespread, globally applied business model” to be feasible a mass market is needed and big balance sheets and a recognition of the need to change will play a big part in that. As the examples of Aggreko and Wartsila also show, albeit from other angles, non-residential storage is also in the sights of those big players. Let’s hope it’s not too bumpy a road.

CASE STUDY: What big players are looking for

Centrica, the global energy giant behind British Gas, launched an innovation fund two years ago, seeking to plough some £100 million in tech start-ups that could help it navigate the energy transition.

In its first two years it has backed the likes of New York-based blockchain start-up LO3, Israeli EV software firm Driivz and a host of other companies operating at the grid edge.

Sam Salisbury, director at Centrica Innovations Labs, says the division starts by being led by a need, indicating that two of Centrica’s present themes are driven by societal issues, namely mobility and ‘active ageing’, or making people feel more comfortable in their homes.

“We try to have a bigger vision of what we’re trying to achieve and then look at who can contribute to that vision and who we can assemble together to create a big solution for our customers,” he says.

Plugging capability gaps with a well-timed, strategic investment stands to be significantly cheaper than ploughing resource into an in-house R&D department like other industries can, and is often the only option in an energy retail sector famed for its slim margins.

But Centrica’s activity is becoming increasingly consumer-led, a notion backed by the company’s work in establishing a peer-to-peer renewable trading network in Cornwall, one of the UK’s most sun-drenched areas, which is to feature a heady mix of solar, various storage technologies and blockchain.

“Certainly my view is we need to find out how to make the homes more self-sufficient… as an energy supplier we have to be developing more solutions for our customers,” Salisbury says.

This section by Liam Stoker, Solar Media’s UK Editor

Part 1 of this article was published on the site last week, here. This article has just appeared in PV Tech Power Vol.19, Solar Media’s quarterly tech journal for the downstream global PV industry, as part of ‘Storage & Smart Power’, a dedicated section commissioned and brought to you by the team here at Energy-Storage.news. Download the whole 119-page magazine for free (subscription required).

COVER IMAGE: Aggreko’s history of powering major events and industrial operations around the world using containerised solutions includes sports and stadiums: the LA 2024 Olympic Games are pledged to be carbon neutral. Image: Credit: Flickr/Tony Webster

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IEEFA: Solar-plus-storage undermines coal economics by ‘hundreds of millions’ of dollars

Tumbling solar-plus-storage costs could see the hybrid technology become a money saver for US firms grappling with expensive legacy coal portfolios, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).

Utilities shutting down coal units ahead of their end-of-life point and replacing them with renewables, stand to reap savings in the “hundreds of millions”, the think tank claimed in a recent update.

PacifiCorp, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy, is one a raft of utilities IEEFA said is “reckoning with a new reality” of coal closures. In a recent review, the firm found early retirement of certain coal units would create “potential benefits” for its 1.8 million customers.

According to IEEFA, PacifiCorp’s coal units can’t compete with “cheaper and cleaner alternatives” despite their high power performance levels. For the firm – reportedly the largest grid operator in the US West – the savings from early closures could reach the US$248 million mark, depending on scenarios.

Cost parity with mainstream gas plants

The spotlight on ever cheaper solar-plus-storage has gradually built in recent times. Only this month, new analysis claimed the duo can outcompete certain new-build gas generators in the US, and not only peaker plants as previously thought.

According to the review led by Fluence, utilities opting for solar-plus-storage can expect lower LCOEs (US$39-US$48/MWh) than comparable mid-merit NGCC plants (US$60-$116/MWh). For reference, some of PacifiCorp’s coal units feature LCOEs above the US$85/MWh threshold, based on the firm’s own stats.

The Berkshire Hathaway Energy subsidiary will not confirm the extent of coal phase-outs – nor the technologies that will replace it – until the late summer. For now, however, several of its scenarios would result in hundreds of megawatts of solar-plus-storage additions.

As noted by the IEEFA this week, other utilities have already finalised similar moves. Nevada’s NV Energy, for one, is shutting down coal plants even as it acts to add 1GW of solar and 100MW of battery storage capacity. Meanwhile, Colorado’s Xcel has filed proposals for solar- and wind-plus-storage at average prices of $30-$36/MWh.

See here for IEEFA’s statement and here for PacifiCorp’s note

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Danish clean energy fund draws US$700m from Nordic investors eyeing Asia and LATAM

Fund management firm Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP) has established a new fund to invest in greenfield renewable energy infrastructure primarily in Asia and Latin America, with expectations of reaching US$1 billion by the final close.

The Copenhagen Infrastructure New Markets Fund I K/S (CI NMF I) reached a US$700 million first close on 9 May with commitments from cornerstone investors PensionDanmark (PD), Arbejdsmarkedets Tillægspension (ATP), Kommunal Landspensjonskasse (KLP), and Lægernes Pension. Three of the organisations have also been cornerstone investors in other CIP funds, but ATP is a new cornerstone investor.

The fund will also focus on certain countries in Eastern Europe and Africa.

“Obtaining first close commitments of US$700m from a group of leading Nordic investors is an important proof of investor confidence in CIP’s approach to energy infrastructure investments and a testament to the track record built with CIP’s Western Europe and North America focused energy infrastructure funds CI I, CI II, and CI III,” said Jakob Baruël Poulsen, managing partner in CIP. ”The CI NMF I is a significant step in CIP’s continued expansion as it broadens our offering to also include infrastructure funds targeted at fast-growing major new economies.”

”CIP has come a long way since PensionDanmark and CIP’s senior partners established CI I back in 2012 with PD as sole and founding investor. CIP has demonstrated its ability to develop and construct renewable infrastructure projects in Europe and America on time and budget and has delivered very attractive returns to its investors. We see the New Markets Fund as a natural next step to broaden the investment universe to new markets in Asia and Latin America where there is a significant need for renewable energy investments that represents attractive investment opportunities for CIP and its investors,” said Torben Möger Pedersen, CEO at PensionDenmark

CI NMF I will apply the same value creation and de-risking approach as CIP’s existing OECD-focused funds and invest in offshore and onshore wind, solar PV, biomass and waste-to-energy and transmission grid systems among others.

CIP is a fund management company focused on energy infrastructure including offshore wind, onshore wind, solar PV, biomass and energy-from-waste, transmission and distribution, and other energy assets like reserve capacity and storage. CIP manages five funds and has ~€7.5bn under management.

Last August, CIP started construction on two solar projects totalling 300MWac in the US.

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Japan’s Marubeni invests in US distributed generation company GridMarket

Japanese conglomerate Marubeni Corporation has invested in US-based company, GridMarket, which is focused on distributed generation projects using battery storage, solar PV, fuel cells, and combined heat and power. 

Marubeni is looking to capitalise on GridMarket’s ability to use proprietary analytics and machine learning to identify cost-effective project opportunities and source technologies to build distributed generation systems across its huge network. The Japanese firm has been working solar energy for two decades but is now looking to promote distributed generation systems for its customers by applying GridMarket’s services particularly in North America, Japan and island areas.

The move should help to reduce electricity bills for consumers.

This is not the first time that a large conglomerate or traditional power companies has taken an interest in distributed generation opportunities, although many such cases are in developing countries. For example, French energy giant Engie has recently teamed up with Myanmar-focused off-grid energy specialist Mandalay Yoma to help spur rural electrification across the Southeast Asian country with mini-grids combining PV, diesel and battery storage. French power giant EDF also acquired a 50% stake in the Togo-focused unit of off-grid renewable energy specialist BBOXX.

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Walmart closes deal with C2 Energy for 46 PV projects

C2 Energy Capital has signed off on 46 Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) and leases with Walmart that will see the company provide renewable energy to the retailer in five US states. 

These deals, totalling around 40MW of capacity, fall in line with Walmart’s goal of having 50% of its operations powered by renewable energy by 2025.

These 46 PV projects will generate more than 65,000,000kWh of renewable energy annually, enough of an energy output to power nearly 5,500 homes. These installations are expected to cover 10-60% of each stores’ overall electricity use.

Mark Vanderhelm, vice president of energy for Walmart Inc., said: “Solar is a vital component of Walmart’s expanding renewable energy portfolio. Walmart plans to tirelessly pursue renewable energy projects that are right for our customers, our business and the environment. These planned projects with C2 Energy Capital are moving us in the right direction toward our renewable energy goals.”

This new deal comes one year after Walmart chose C2 Energy Capital to install 13 rooftop solar projects in South Carolina. All 13 projects are now operational. 

Candice Michalowicz, co-founder and managing member of C2, said: “Walmart is a seasoned expert at onsite solar generation, and they have high expectations for their vendor partners. We are honored to be a part of their renewable energy program, and the important steps they are taking that will benefit the local communities and the environment.”

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