Siemens awarded $6.4M by DOE to develop solar’s role in grid resilience

solar corporate funding

Siemens’ central research and development unit in the U.S., Siemens Corporate Technology (CT) US, was selected for a $6.4 million research award from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) to advance solar energy’s role in strengthening the resilience of the U.S. electricity grid. This project will create an innovative Energy Management System that can coordinate distributed microgrids to work together. The system will utilize diverse technologies to increase grid resilience against natural disasters or cyber-attacks as well as autonomously restore power during a blackout using smart inverters.

CT US was selected as a part of the Energy Department’s effort to invest in new projects that enable grid operators to rapidly detect physical and cyber-based abnormalities in the power system and utilize solar generation to recover quickly from power outages. Siemens is one of several projects that will develop grid management technologies that show how solar energy will enhance power system resilience, especially at critical infrastructure sites. Collaborative efforts between Siemens and the DOE are expected to begin by Summer 2019.

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“Siemens technologies are helping to modernize the U.S. electric grid and develop stronger, more resilient power systems that can detect and defend against physical and cyber-threats and support smart infrastructures,” said Ulrich Muenz, Siemens CT Head of the Autonomous Systems and Control Research Group. “This project advances innovative research and development for technologies that could one day become standard across the industry to enhance and protect critical infrastructure through autonomous and resilient energy management systems.”

The Siemens CT team will be led by Ulrich Muenz and Sindhu Suresh and work with partners from DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Columbia University, Siemens Digital Grid and Holy Cross Energy to develop, validate, and demonstrate a highly innovative, three-layer Energy Management System (EMS) for Autonomous and Resilient Operation of Energy systems with RenewaAbles (AURORA).

In January 2019, CT signed an MOU with National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), to conduct integrated experiments within their respective research and development facilities to help integrate innovative power electronic devices with the electric grid, including smart inverters for solar panels, batteries, and electrical vehicles that are capable of supporting the nation’s power system.

“The increasing deployment of distributed solar resources gives grid operators like Holy Cross Energy an opportunity to rethink the design and operation of our electric power system, in ways that utilize these local assets to not only deliver value to the consumer, but also to enable and enhance the reliability and resilience of the power systems in which they are embedded. By working with Siemens and collaborators in this very important project, we will get a window into the future self-driving grid and discover the most important steps we need to take to get ourselves ready for it,” says Bryan Hannegan, CEO of Holy Cross Energy.

— Solar Builder magazine

Siemens to acquire KACO new energy GmbH

kacoSiemens announced plans to acquire the string inverter business of the KACO new energy GmbH, one of the leading manufacturers of energy-related power electronics, for an undisclosed sum. The project development and EPC activities are not part of the acquisition. The closing of the transaction is subject to regulatory approval and expected in the first half of 2019.

KACO new energy, headquartered in Neckarsulm, Germany, is active in more than nine countries with local sales and service companies and has more than 350 employees. KACO new energy’s product line covers the full power range, from inverter units designed for a family home, commercial buildings and infrastructures to complete systems for solar parks producing megawatts of electricity. The company puts special emphasis on the fastest growing segments of string inverters for solar and storage applications, up to 1500V and using the latest semi-conductors. KACO new energy has developed the next generation inverter technology based on silicon carbide (SiC), which leads to best-in-class power density and superior thermal behavior for installation in demanding environments.

“With Siemens we are happy to have found a buyer where we see our technological know-how in good hands. Embedded in a strong corporate group, KACO new energy is well prepared for the challenges of the coming years”, say Ralf Hofmann, executive manager of KACO new energy, as well as Ralf Sturm and Dr. Marc-Olaf Grumann, executive managers of the Sturm Family Office.

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“With this acquisition, Siemens gains access to the latest technology, while KACO new energy will benefit from the resources required to scale up. Together, we will be able to apply the technology in exciting growth segments”, explains Cedrik Neike, Managing Board Member of Siemens AG.

Distributed energy, renewable energy sources and eMobility are playing an increasingly important role in the energy value chain, requiring increasing intelligence via an open and flexible ecosystem of technology, solutions and services. Siemens is supporting its customers and the society in reaching their ambitious goals for climate protection. With the complementary power electronics portfolio of KACO new energy, Siemens is strengthening its technological leadership in the high-growth fields of decentralized energy systems and is providing corresponding benefits to customers.

Jean-Christoph Heyne, Head of Siemens’ new Future Grids business, adds: “Siemens is in a strong position to succeed in technology that supports the energy and mobility transition. The acquisition of KACO new energy enhances our portfolio in attractive growth segments at the grid edge. Our new Smart Infrastructure Operating Company comes into operation on April 1, 2019 where our strengths in electrification and buildings will enable us to thrive in the market and continue to expand in the areas of decentral energy, renewables, storage and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Siemens, AES-owned company makes big splash with new solar + storage system


Fluence, an energy storage company owned by Siemens and The AES Corporation, launched a new platform, SunFlex Energy Storage, that will enable solar facilities to sell up to 50 percent more clean energy per site. The Fluence SunFlex Energy Storage technology platform builds upon many of the controls and architectural principles from Advancion and Siestorage, the company’s two technology platforms and the experience gained from working with solar developers such as sPower and AES Distributed Energy.

“Solar and energy storage are the cheapest way to provide power in a number of markets today, and will reach economic parity in many more countries over the next five years,” said Stephen Coughlin, president and CEO of Fluence. “With Fluence’s SunFlex Energy Storage platform, customers can now deliver clean, abundant and low-cost solar energy on-demand, day or night.”

The new platform captures the solar energy that otherwise would be lost during daily peak solar hours, and will increase the volume of energy delivered from a single site by up to 50 percent by allowing developers to add more solar panels without the cost of changing their interconnection. In addition, the new platform improves plant stability by smoothing and limiting the ramping of solar output, and in many areas, simplifies the interconnection process for combined solar and storage facilities. These improvements are only available from tailored energy storage solutions like Fluence’s SunFlex Energy Storage platform. In addition, energy storage can expand the capabilities of solar facilities by increasing the capacity factor of the plant and adding new sources of revenue from frequency regulation and other grid services.

Report: Energy storage would benefit more than 5 million commercial customers

“The Fluence team originally developed energy storage solutions to replace inefficient or underutilized traditional power infrastructure assets such as power reserves, peaking, or wires,” said John Zahurancik, COO of Fluence. “Today, as new power investment is flowing mainly into new solar generation, we have the chance to make this more efficient from the start. With our solution, we can get more solar energy from the same site and make the best use of our power networks.”

— Solar Builder magazine

Wind News: Siemens Launches 4MW Offshore Wind Turbine; Vestas Annual Report Released; Ecotricity To Enter Urban Turbine Market,…

Catch up on wind energy news here, posted by Zach Shahan at Clean Technica.

Wind News: Siemens Launches 4MW Offshore Wind Turbine, Vestas Annual Report Released, Ecotricity To Enter Urban Turbine Market,… (via Clean Technica)

More Wind Power And More Work For Iowa

As we noted just a month or so ago, MidAmerican Energy hearts Iowa’s wind power. Not only did the subsidiary of MidAmerican Energy Holdings bring 593.4 megawatts (MW) of wind generation online in the state last year, including three wind farm expansion projects, it’s pushing ahead with another 407.1 MW of wind power for 2012.

That means another 176 utility-scale wind turbines will be going up in across three sites in Iowa this year, opening up opportunities for both turbine manufacturing and homegrown heartland jobs.

siemens iowa midamerican wind power

President Obama visits the Siemens turbine plant in Fort Madison, Iowa, in 2010. (image via Siemens)

Now MidAmerican Energy, headquartered in Des Moines, has announced that it has selected Siemens Energy to supply all of the turbines it will be installing this year. This comes as no great shock, as MidAmerican partnered with Siemens on its entire wind power rollout last year (at the time, Siemens’ largest ever deal for land-based turbines) and has a relationship that dates back to 2008. But neither was it a done deal, as it was only at the conclusion of “a competitive tender process” toward the end of last year that the decision was made.

A factor, no doubt, was the manufacturing investment that Siemens has made in Iowa, in part because of its relationship with MidAmerican. Currently, Siemens Energy (a German company) owns manufacturing facilities in Fort Madison, Iowa, and Hutchinson, Kansas. The first factory was strategically selected as a central location for shipping turbine parts to wind power projects all over the country, back in 2007; the latter went up just last year, in part to help service MidAmerican’s mega-projects.

The two manufacturing facilities will be producing the nacelles—essentially what house the parts of the turbine that produce electricity—as well as the blades for the three projects. Each of the SWT-2.3-108 wind turbines slated for installation is capable of generating 2.3 MW of electricity.

The three projects Siemens will be partnering with MidAmerican on in Iowa this year are the recently announced 103.5-MW Vienna wind project, set for Marshall and Tama counties; the 200.1-MW Eclipse wind project, in Guthrie and Audubon counties; and the 101.2-MW Morning Light wind project, in Adair County. (Siemens also will provide one additional 2.3-megawatt wind turbine, which will be installed at MidAmerican Energy’s Rolling Hills wind project.) The contract for the whole shebang includes a five-year service, maintenance and warranty agreement.

The relationship between the two companies goes back to 2008, when Siemens was awarded the contract to supply 76 of its 2.3-MW wind turbines for MidAmerican’s 174.8-MW Adair wind project in Iowa. Add to that the 258 wind turbines it provided for MidAmerican’s 593.4-MW Iowa wind expansion projects in Adams, Adair, Calhoun, Cass, Marshall and Pocahontas counties last year—plus the projects planned to come online in 2012—and the two companies will have installed a total of nearly 1.2 gigawatts of wind powered energy in Iowa.