Here Comes the Rolls-Royce of Microgrids. Literally.

Oct. 2, 2018
Yet another global name is expanding its microgrid play — Rolls-Royce — with yesterday’s announcement that it has taken a stake in an energy storage and controls startup and will now offer turnkey microgrids.

Yet another global name is expanding its microgrid play — Rolls-Royce — with yesterday’s announcement that it has taken a stake in an energy storage and controls startup and will now offer turnkey microgrids.

The transportation and power technology company will add batteries, controls and renewables to its microgrid line following its investment in German start-up Qinous. Rolls-Royce had been offering diesel and gas gen sets for microgrids through its subsidiary MTU Onsite Energy.

Rolls-Royce is adding turnkey microgrids to its current portfolio. Graphic courtesy of Rolls-Royce

“We have identified our customers’ needs in terms of autonomous energy supply systems that are efficient, reliable and environmentally friendly,” said Andreas Schell, CEO of Rolls-Royce Power Systems, in yesterday’s announcement. “For this reason, we are now adding turnkey microgrids to our current portfolio.”

Schell said the move strengthens Rolls-Royce  position as as innovator that can supply customers with microgrid systems tailored to their specific requirements.

Rolls-Royce is among several major US and international energy developers and technology companies now pursuing the microgrid market, among them ABB, Ameresco, Eaton, Enel, Engie, GE, NRG Energy, S&C Electric, Schneider Electric, Siemens, Tesla and Veolia, along with North American utility giants Duke and Exelon.

Rolls-Royce cites demand for microgrids created by the growing addition of renewable energy to the power supply. Grid operators can call upon fast-responding microgrids when weather causes a sudden disruption in wind or solar generation.

In a statement released this week, the company also noted that microgrids create efficiencies by linking up all the elements of a power system with intelligent controls.

Incorporating renewables into a microgrid’s on-site energy, which Rolls-Royce now plans to do, makes the system clean and economic: “With the use of energy storage and renewable sources, operators of hotels, hospitals or schools are able to make significant fuel cost savings and at the same time protect the environment,” said Qinous CEO Steffen Heinrich.

Qinous has already integrated battery storage and energy systems into more than 30 microgrids worldwide, including those using MTU Onsite Energy systems from Rolls-Royce.

The startup plans to use the Rolls-Royce backing to expand its existing product portfolio and strengthen global sales and marketing activities. The parties did not disclose the size of the investment.

“Microgrids combine clean and cost-effective renewable energies with our reliable generator sets and are thus the future of the power industry,” said Alexander Patt, project leader of microgrid solutions at Rolls-Royce Power Systems. “We are convinced that, with our engineering competence, we will be able to provide our customers with a total system that will give them the availability and efficiency they require.”

Rolls-Royce Power Systems is now setting up a microgrid demonstrator in Friedrichshafen, Germany that will assist in the design of microgrids that meet a customer-specific requirements.

“Microgrids are part of our Green and High-Tech Initiative, with which we are making targeted investments in environmentally sound solutions for the future that are designed to lower the emissions of pollutants and reduce the consumption of energy and raw materials,” added Schell.

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About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded RealEnergyWriters.com, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

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