Making the switch to renewable energy is an essential step in the fight against climate change. But there’s one key difficulty with renewable sources of energy: they are intermittent. The sun only shines during the daytime and the wind can stop blowing at any time.
Historically, electricity generation and consumption have needed to be evenly matched. If there’s any deficit or oversupply, the grid falls out of balance, creating the risk that the supply of electricity to consumers will be disrupted.
Large battery systems can solve this problem by storing renewable energy and releasing it to the electricity grid when it is needed. That can balance supply and demand on the grid, reduce the cost of electricity and accelerate the adoption of renewable energy.
Powin, a climate technology company based in Oregon, US, is helping to deliver these benefits through its large-scale energy storage systems.
The company buys battery cells, assembles them into efficient energy storage units and provides proprietary software to help clients better manage their energy storage and usage.
Making an impact
Powin’s battery system can switch on immediately, absorb surplus solar energy during the daytime and then distribute it in the evening. A fully charged battery can ramp up from 0% to 100% power in as little as 100 milliseconds.
The energy storage industry is spread across the globe, with most battery cells produced in China. Cell contracts can be worth hundreds of millions of dollars per year. Powin secures battery cells from many different suppliers, creating competition and leverage to provide its customers with the best products in terms of cost, availability, reliability and performance for each application.
But to secure a consistent cell supply and serve customers globally, companies like Powin need financial partners with a broad spectrum of financial solutions and a global network to help them scale and increase their impact.
“HSBC provides Powin with financing and access to connections across our network to help the company navigate their global expansion and partners,” said Mark Hillhouse, Head of Sustainable Finance at HSBC. “The bank’s experience, strong capabilities and extensive footprint in Asian markets enhance Powin’s relationships with leading global battery cell vendors, some of whom are also HSBC clients.”
HSBC can also provide the risk management tools to help the company fix or hedge exchange rates, which can otherwise have a significant impact on costs for companies with international operations. Powin is already expanding beyond its US base and is eyeing opportunities in South Asia, East Asia, Australia and Europe.
HSBC’s global presence helps Powin to capitalise on growth opportunities. “Having HSBC standing behind a growing company like ours provides added confidence and trust to our customer base,” said Danny Lu, Senior Vice President of Powin. “That helps us to better manage risks, grow and ensure that we deliver our projects on time.”
Solar and wind power are both essential to transitioning the grid to 100% renewable energy — a National Renewable Energy Laboratory study found that a 35% adoption of wind and solar power in the western United States would reduce CO2 emissions by 25-45%1. But this transition won’t be effective without innovative energy storage solutions. Developing and commercializing that technology at scale requires expert financial support.