Finnish piston engine giant Wärtsilä has taken a major step into the energy storage business with the signing of an agreement to acquire Greensmith Energy Management Systems, US-based provider of “intelligent energy storage technology and solutions.” Wärtsilä says the acquisition will “enable it to expand its footprint in the energy storage market and position itself as a leading global energy systems integrator.” The closing of the transaction, which is subject to US regulatory approvals, was expected to occur no later than July 2017.

Founded in 2008, Greensmith was responsible for deploying about a third of total US energy storage capacity in 2016. Specialising in energy storage optimisation and integration software, the company today employs over 40 people and says it has “delivered in excess of 180 MW to some of the largest power companies globally.”

Greensmith has developed an energy management software system called GEMS, currently offered in its fifth generation. This platform enables utilities, EPC companies and IPPs to manage and monitor individual systems or entire fleets of systems, identifying and diagnosing equipment issues in real time, and extending system performance and longevity – therefore increasing return on investment. The company also offers a Commercial and Industrial (C&I) and micro-grid solution called OMNI4.

Wärtsilä expects energy storage “to grow exponentially as it becomes an integral part of any energy system”, and “with this in mind, aims to become a global systems integrator with full in-house capabilities specialising in solutions that offer the combination and optimisation of different forms of power generation, energy storage and demand side management.”

“Having an integration software platform is a must,” says Wärtsilä, and acquiring Greensmith gives it “an industry leading platform to offer across an installed base of over 63 GW of power generation around the world.”

“Together with Greensmith we will become a global energy systems integrator. Greensmith provides unparalleled software and energy storage knowledge and we provide our global footprint, EPC expertise and large sales network. A perfect match,” said Javier Cavada, president at Wärtsilä Energy Solutions.

Following the acquisition, E.ON, which had been building up its shareholding in Greensmith as part of its drive into decentralised energy, sold its shares, but says it plans to continue to work in partnership with the company. “Greensmith is one of the true pioneers in the energy storage business”, said Dr Philipp Ulbrich, VP of Strategic Co-Investments, the corporate venture capital arm of E.ON. “After a very successful partnership both as investor and business partner, we are very excited about continuing the great relationship with Greensmith as part of Wärtsilä, providing even better energy storage solutions for customers in the USA and Europe.”

E.ON collaborated with Greensmith on the Iron Horse solar/storage project near Tucson, Arizona, recently inaugurated. This facility, at the University of Arizona’s Tech Park consists of a 10 MW lithium titanium oxide storage facility plus 2 MW PV array providing frequency regulation and voltage control support to Tucson Electric Power. It is E.ON’s first grid connected lithium battery system project in North America.

E.ON say the partnership between it and Greensmith has “proven to be profound and exceptionally beneficial through the combination of equity investment and business partnership, adding value to both Greensmith and E.ON.”

In September 2016, E.ON extended its shareholding further and two further projects with Greensmith were launched in Texas, the Texas Waves projects, employing lithium-ion battery systems. Installed at E.ON’s existing Pyron and Inadale wind farms in West Texas, the Texas Waves facilities are expected to be online by the end of 2017.