Tsingshan Group was established in late 1980s in one of China’s most economically vibrant regions: Wenzhou, Zhejiang province. Started originally from the automotive stainless steel business, Tsingshan has cultivated the industry for more than 30 years and has grown to be the world’s largest stainless steel company – covering the entire supply chain, from nickel-chrome ore mining and nickel-chrome ore iron refining to stainless steel smelting and production. In fiscal year 2019, Tsingshan Group recorded $37.6 billion in revenue and shipped more than 10 million tons of stainless steel. And now, the company is aggressively stepping into position for the energy transition.
Nickel is a strategic raw material for lithium NMC (Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide) batteries, which have become the leading lithium-ion battery technology supporting the rise of electric vehicles and energy storage systems. Given its strong position in both nickel mining and production, in 2018 Tsingshan made the strategic decision to enter the new energy industry.
The company has made major investments in Qingmei Energy Materials, a producer of lithium NMC battery materials, and Ruipu Energy, a manufacturer of both NMC and LFP (Lithium Iron Phosphate) batteries. NMC batteries offer a high energy density and are well suited for electric cars, whereas LFP batteries are characterized by a lower energy density and are better suited for electric buses and other applications.
Tsinghan Group’s latest investment is FoxESS, a new company specialized in the development, production, and distribution of distributed generation (DG) products and solutions for the residential PV and ESS market, as well as the commercial solar+storage market.
Tapping the market
FoxESS can tap into the deep supply chain of Tsingshan Group to provide advanced solar+storage solutions to its customers around the world. Company founder and CEO Michael Zhu previously spearheaded the international expansion at Samil Power and Solax, turning both into formidable global brands in the solar industry. In the process Zhu put together an experienced team of business developers and sales executives in a wide range of key PV markets, including Asia, Europe, Australia, and the Americas. He says he has tapped into this network to grow the global footprint of FoxESS and expects the combination of Tsingshan Group and FoxESS to deliver an inverter and ESS powerhouse – first in the residential sector and later expanding into commercial and industrial applications.
The FoxESS product range has been planned to encompass a broad smart energy profile, including grid-tied inverters, AC energy storage inverters, and battery storage packs. Since the manufacturer is first targeting the residential solar+storage market, the initial product rollout is focusing on single- and three-phase inverters in the 0.7 kW to 10 kW range. All of the single-phase inverters are “battery ready,” allowing for an easy upgrade to FoxESS storage solutions.
For existing PV systems, FoxESS offers an easy way to add battery storage to the residential installation. This overall solution is referred to as the FoxESS SR-A series and involves two key components: the AC charger C series, with a capacity of 3 kW to 5 kW, coupled with a B series lithium-ion battery. Battery capacity extends from 5.8 kWh to 23.2 kWh.
If the end user is looking for an all-in-one solution involving grid-tied inverter and battery storage, the FoxESS SR-B series is the best way to go. In addition to the core components inverter, AC charger, and lithium-ion battery pack, this all-in-one solution offers an intelligent energy flow management system to provide for an optimal flow of energy in the home, be it during periods of heavy PV generation or heavy power consumption inside the home. This integrated solution provides for maximum self-consumption and therefore optimum system profitability.
Digitalization is a key driver at FoxESS and in addition to the intelligent energy flow management system, FoxESS has developed software for its grid-tied inverters to maximize the energy harvest using a real-time precise MPPT algorithm. A sophisticated monitoring cloud platform is another key software element developed by the manufacturer. This comprehensive monitoring solution provides free, real-time performance monitoring and remote maintenance to improve system uptime. The monitoring tool can be easily accessed from a computer or mobile device.
FoxESS plans to roll out additional software and smart home solutions in the near future, including a virtual power plant (VPP) offering. Providing the ability to integrate a cluster of PV- and storage-powered homes, VPPs can not only provide power to their members, but also offer valuable grid services to local utilities.
The combination of nickel and stainless steel champion Tsingshan Group and distributed generation solution supplier FoxESS is a powerful one. Entering into the market with advanced smart PV and battery storage solutions, the partnership seeks to bring new industry competitiveness to households and businesses around the world. The initial product portfolio delivers a range of options for the residential customer, whether existing PV system owners or households just starting on their DG journey. With lithium-ion battery prices dropping and residential electricity rates showing no sign of going down, the combination of smart inverter and battery storage is become increasingly compelling – and the new Tsingshan and FoxESS duo is a testament to the power of an ever-expanding clean energy industry.
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