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Company Providing Storage for Renewable Energy Sees Surge in Investment, Staff

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring Shirlington Gateway. The new 2800 Shirlington recently delivered a brand-new lobby and upgraded fitness center, and is adding spec suites with bright open plans and modern finishes. Experience a prime location and enjoy being steps from Shirlington Village.

(Updated 9:30 p.m.) Ballston-based Fluence is ramping up its efforts to tackle climate change with energy storage systems for renewable energy.

The energy storage company was founded three years ago this month as the joint venture of Berlin-based Siemens and Arlington-based Fortune 500 company, AES Corp. It enjoyed torrid growth over the course of 2020: About 100 staff came on, including a new CEO, and it acquired a company in October.

This year is off to a great start, too, with a pledge of $125 million in investment from the Qatar Investment Authority.

“We have been experiencing an enormous growth since the inception of the company,” said Vice President of Strategy Marek Wolek.

Fluence develops batteries that store energy from wind and solar. Since 2018, Fluence had quadrupled the amount of energy storage it has deployed or is working on, from 600 megawatts to 2,400 megawatts. It has deployed or been awarded contracts for storage in 24 countries.

The work is “a little bit more complicated” than just batteries, however, Wolek said. It also makes sure the supply of natural, renewable energy can be converted into enough electricity to meet demands, without leading to surges in electricity or deficits for customers.

“That’s extremely valuable, and makes the whole energy grid stable,” Wolek said.

But to keep up in a rapidly innovating market, the company started seeking out investing partners about six months ago, he  said.

“How we effectively create a grid of future requires investments,” he said. “The mark is moving very fast: We have to make sure the technology is easier and faster, and efficient to use, for our customers.”

With the $125 million from Qatar Investment Authority, a founding member of the One Planet Sovereign Wealth Fund Initiative, which invests government funds into climate change solutions. Fluence will be investing in hardware and software, as well as staff to further develop the battery technology, he said.

In a statement, CEO Manuel Perez Dubuc said tackling climate change requires both technology and investment worldwide.

“We see energy storage as the linchpin of a decarbonized grid and adding QIA to our international shareholder base will allow Fluence to innovate even faster and address the enormous global market for large-scale battery-based energy storage.”

Dubuc came on as CEO in May 2020, after serving on the company’s board. He switches roles with Stephen Coughlin, who now sits on the board, said Director of Communications Alison Mickey.

He and the newly hired 100 staff members grew the company’s workforce to more than 300 worldwide.

In October, the company bought Advanced Microgrid Solutions, which develops AI bidding software for batteries and other tech for storing and generating renewably sourced electricity. The merger will help to improve energy storage, grid reliability and efficiency, Wolek said.

Fluence is headquartered at 4601 N. Fairfax Drive, and has offices in San Francisco, suburban Atlanta, Germany and Australia.

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