Enel deepens storage push with Demand Energy acquisition

Italy’s Enel has become the latest European renewables giant to acquire a US-based energy storage company, buying a 100% stake in Demand Energy Networks, which has found early success as a storage developer in New York City.

Demand Energy (DEN) provides turnkey storage systems for commercial and industrial clients, including “patent-pending” controls technology that allows customers to maximise the economic value of their storage systems—a key factor in battery storage, where multiple value streams must be tapped for a project to make sense today.

Washington-based DEN is relatively small, having built 24 projects totaling 3MW/9MWh to date, and claiming a development pipeline of 30MW/100MWh. Its focus so far has been on the behind-the-meter storage market, although it says its platform—encompassing storage hardware, software and services—works equally well for utility-scale and microgrid projects.

Last August Washington-based DEN emerged as a winner in a New York auction that will see it building “multiple megawatts” of storage in Brooklyn and Queens, due online in 2017.

But DEN’s global prospects will be transformed as part of Enel, allowing it to plug its storage expertise and offerings into one of the world’s largest and most diversified bases of renewable-energy plants. Enel owns 36GW of wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and hydropower assets, spread across two dozen countries.

"Through this transaction we will be able to greatly strengthen our position in the growing battery storage market with a complementary partner and innovator," says Francesco Venturini, Enel’s head of global renewable energies.

“We will expand the development of renewables and storage both in the US and globally, delivering a clean, reliable, high-tech and cost-effective energy solution,” Venturini says.

Last year Venturini told Recharge Enel is “dedicating a lot of effort to storage”.

Enel’s acquisition, made for an undisclosed amount, adds to the string of storage acquisitions by major players in renewables and the broader energy sector.

Among the key deals in 2016 were Engie’s acquisition of California-based Green Charge Networks and French oil giant Total’s acquisition of compatriot Saft, following its earlier investment in Stem.

Meanwhile General Electric, which is approaching the storage market through its Current unit, invested in Germany’s Sonnen, and EDF Renewable Energy acquired groSolar to get closer to the behind-the-meter solar and storage market.

“Our acquisition by Enel underscores the strategic intersection of renewable energy production, energy storage and an intelligent software controls platform,” says DEN chief executive Gregg Patterson.

Enel made the acquisition through its Enel Green Power North America unit, which is based in Andover, Massachusetts.

This week Enel launched a €1.25bn ($1.33bn) green bond issue, its first as it moves to underpin its ambitious transformation to a clean-power future.