Finnish brewery to deploy 20 MW battery and virtual power plant


A battery storage firm, a technical conglomerate and a virtual power plant provider walk into a bar … No, that's not the start of a somewhat tortuous industry joke, but it could prove to be how a decarbonization project at a Finnish brewery began.

After a streak of announcements about solar and energy storage assets at some of Europe's biggest brewers it seems beer drinkers in the continent's far north won't have to wait long before they can enjoy a guilt-free swig of ale unclouded by the specter of unnecessary carbon emissions. The Siemens Smart Infrastructure subsidiary of the tech conglomerate is set to implement a 20 MW storage project at Sinebrychoff's beverage factory.

Carlsberg Group subsidiary Sinebrychoff is one of Finland's biggest brewers and produces more than 300 million liters of beer, cider, and soft drinks per year. The company has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality in its production processes by 2030.

Smart finance

Siemens' solution involves a 20 MW Edgestack modular battery supplied by the Fluence joint venture it owns with renewables infrastructure business AES. Swiss storage integration and operation company MW Storage International provided the project's initial investment and will have 69% ownership of the battery. Siemens Financial Services assisted with risk management and financial structuring of the deal between the partners and the finance unit was also involved in developing the business model which reportedly enabled the virtual power plant (VPP) through ‘smart financing.'

“Energy storage provides significant benefits not only to customers but also to the broader electric grid,” said Fluence's chief financial officer Dennis Fehr. “We are pleased to contribute our industry-leading technology to the project and look forward to replicating this service model with Siemens and MW Storage International in the future.”

Finnish electricity system operator Fingrid and another Siemens subsidiary – Vibeco – are also on board the project. The latter, a VPP company, has been tasked with supplying a trading platform to the system which will enable the beer factory to participate in various energy product markets on the Finnish grid.

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“We have worked with Sinebrychoff for years to support their energy efficiency and emission reduction goals,” said Matthias Rebellius, managing board member of Siemens AG and CEO of the Smart Infrastructure unit. “Thanks to historical energy data and bundling the competencies from different players, we can now use digitalization to create the potential for savings and improve the quality of power supply to the brewery. Together with our partners, we can offer an innovative service model to actively help industrial companies make the transition to the green economy.”

Siemens Smart Infrastructure will overhaul the brewer's grid connection point while they are at it. The entire system, including battery and trading platform, is slated for completion by next summer.

Revenue streams

The 20 MW battery – which will occupy half a soccer pitch of space – will directly power brewery operation, said the project partners. The facility will enable the brewer to improve energy efficiency by opening up new revenue streams through having a flexible load profile which can offer grid ancillary services. The partners plan to couple those features with weather forecast integration and other advanced analytics to further optimize the asset.

Siemens says the project will showcase its VPP business. Individual loads on the factory-site microgrid will be operated smartly to allow for a degree of load balancing on the utility grid. If successful, the system will eliminate the need for a substantial power reserve to stabilize the grid after big industrial loads are switched on or off. Omitting such reserves offers significant potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the Finnish energy market.

“We see this as the storage model of the future for various industries, including food and beverage,” said Wilfried Karl, chief executive of MW Storage International. “They benefit from state-of-the-art storage technology, financial and environmental advantages as well as proven expertise and an attractive license model.”

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