German utility buys UK lead acid/lithium firm for solar and storage

Alt Daber EBU

Alt Daber EBU

Innogy SE, the new name of German utility RWE, confirmed on January 3 that it had completed the purchase of UK-based lead-acid battery manufacturer Belectric. A change of name for Belectric is likely in the future.

The deal, said to be in the high, double-digit million euro range, was agreed at the end of August 2016, but was only completed just after the new year.

“Belectric will be working together with Innogy to design, install and operate utility-scale photovoltaic power plants,” said Innogy spokesperson Vera Bücker.

“At the same time, Belectric will continue to provide services in the fields of engineering, procuring and construction, and operation and maintenance for third parties. The company will also remain active in regions that are not among Innogy’s target markets for project development.”

Belectric was selected by the UK National Grid last year as one of seven battery firms to provide sub-second enhanced frequency response support to the grid. It was the first time battery technology had been chosen for grid-scale energy storage in the UK.

Belectric’s flagship product is its Energy Buffer Unit, which it makes with either lead acid or lithium ion batteries according to customer specifications. The EBU can store 10MW of power.

Innogy is looking to move, it says, “right to the forefront as a global player” in the utility-scale solar and battery storage market, it says, and expects the UK firm to help it in its move towards decentralized power.

“While Innogy is a pioneer for efficient, climate-friendly and intelligent energy solutions, we were still lagging behind in the field of utility-scale photovoltaic power plants,” said Innogy CEO Peter Terium.

“We’ve now closed this gap and are in an ideal position to successfully implement large-scale photovoltaic projects in Europe and our growth regions.

“Also, the combination of expertise in renewable energy and battery storage technology solutions will help us keep our energy system stable, despite the increasing influx of fluctuating renewables.”

“Our Energy Buffer Unit is already in use at solar power plants, including the Alt Daber solar power plant in Germany,” said a Belectric company statement. “There it delivers power flexibly at any time of day to actively stabilize the national power grid.”

The company says its EBU can be scaled to almost any required size and has an output of 750kW per 40 minutes for grid stability, peak shaving and ramp rate control.

The take-over means that Innogy SE now owns all of Belectric’s PV and battery business, with the brand also becoming Innogy SE’s. Belectric, however, will be renamed and still own its real estate, automotive suppliers and electric mobility capabilities.