German utility RWE has announced plans to acquire grid-scale solar and storage provider Belectric through its renewable energy subsidiary, Innogy SE.Due to the declining use of coal power and customer defection to rooftop solar, European utilities are expanding revenue streams beyond the traditional production and sale of electricity. To this end, RWE has set out a strategy through which it will evolve to become a home and energy services provider.
The utility set up a $144 million venture capital fund to invest in promising Silicon Valley startups. It has also reportedly become the first European utility to widely deploy Bidgely's HomeBeat app, which enables customers track their energy usage down to the appliance level.
Strengthening renewable generation
[quote] The acquisition is expected to strengthen RWE's portfolio of grid-scale renewable generation. Furthermore, the company has installed a total photovoltaic (PV) capacity of 1.5 gigawatts peak across 280 plants and rooftops. It operates and maintains more than 1 gigawatt of peak solar capacity. The grid-scale solar and storage provider designs and manufactures its systems out of plants in Germany and India. [Renewable energy: Germany unveils weather forecasting tech]
Hans Bünting, chief operating officer of renewables for Innogy SE, said: “In acquiring Belectric, we are bolstering our skills in the area of renewables and acquiring extensive expertise, as well as many years of operational experience with solar technology. The experienced team at Belectric will contribute to taking Innogy forward with large-scale solar projects.”
RWE electric mobility
In February this year, RWE announced plans to invest in US clean tech firm, KnGrid, which promotes the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy beginning with EVs. [Germany sets smart meter standards for nationwide rollout]
RWE New Ventures LLC, a subsidiary of RWE, seeks to strengthen its co-operation with KnGrid, in light of the abundance of clean energy development taking place in California and the increasing amount of electric vehicles on the road.
California has established highly ambitious goals, with half of its electric power generated from renewable sources, predominantly wind and solar.
In 2013, California’s Governor Jerry Brown signed an order to support 1.5 million zero emission vehicles by 2025. The Governor has advocated to use big electric loads from EVs to smooth the output from variable output from wind and solar power.
Peter Terium told the media during his visit to California: "I am really excited. Today our common effort to promote the energy turnaround in California and beyond starting with the electric car reaches a new level. KnGrid has the market position and the greenfield for automakers.
“RWE has a mature expertise in smart grids and eMobility technology. If we can combine the best of these two worlds we see Germany and California leading on parallel paths to build the energy system for the future."