Newly formed battery giant Fluence aims to take on Tesla

Energy giants AES and Siemens have combined their energy storage divisions to take on upstarts like Tesla and other industry rivals, in an effort to dominate the soaring global battery storage market.

The jointly owned entity, Fluence, will focus exclusively on grid-level storage, rather than in the household market, with a minimum size of 100kW.

And Australia, where Tesla will soon begin building the biggest lithium-ion battery storage in the world, is high on the list of market target.

AES says it expects the market for grid scale battery storage to boom from just 3GW in 2016 to 28GW in 2022, and John Zehurancik, the president of AES Energy Storage, says Australia in the global top five for potential.

“Australia has moved itself into one of top 5 markets in the world,” Zehurancik told RenewEconomy in an interview.  “You are sitting in the middle of one of the hot markets.

“There are lots of fundamentals that would encourage more storage in Australia – the lack of new dispatchable electricity, the growing renewable share, remote grids, its geographical limitations and the significant points of congestion. They all are points that make storage very valuable.”

AES is currently partnered with Lyon Group, which has ambitious plans to build more than 1GW of solar and more than 600MWh of battery storage in South Australia, Victoria and Queensland, and Zehurancik says it is also working with a “number of other companies” looking at battery storage in Australia, ranging of 20MW, 30MW, 50MW and bigger.

“We expect that some of these projects will come on towards end of this year and others will follow on after that. The question is do all the things that are talked about move forward. Will there be sustainable set of conditions going forward – or is this just a response to a crisis?”

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Top image: A 30MW/120MWh battery system installed by AES Energy Storage for San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) in Escondido, Southern California, is the world’s largest. Photo via P2 Photography

Giles Parkinson