Fluence, an energy storage company owned by Siemens and The AES Corporation, announced its new technology platform, called SunFlex Energy Storage, that is said to both improve and expand the capabilities of photovoltaic solar generation, already the fastest growing resource in the power sector. The company’s newest energy storage technology platform enables solar facilities to sell up to 50 percent more clean energy per site, eliminates solar variability across the day – such as that caused by passing clouds – and expands the delivery of energy into the night, creating an on-demand solar resource.
“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 growth in solar generation globally has been remarkable with the share of photovoltaics as a percentage of total generation doubling seven times between 2000 and 2015, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. However, the industry faces headwinds as increasing solar generation creates challenges for network operators, tasked with controlling system reliability, to manage the uncertainty caused by this variable resource. With Fluence’s new technology platform, solar energy can now be delivered when it is needed most, not just when it is available. This innovation eliminates the need for back-up generation, such as peaking gas plants or reciprocating engines, to manage solar variability. This is especially critical on many microgrids and islands, where solar and storage combined are now the cheapest and most reliable form of energy available.
“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.”
The Fluence SunFlex Energy Storage technology platform builds upon many of the industry-leading controls and architectural principles from Advancion and Siestorage, the company’s two technology platforms and the experience gained from working with leading solar developers such as sPower and AES Distributed Energy. 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.