Swell Energy recently raised $120 million to expand its virtual power plant (VPP) programs. SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Greenbacker Development Opportunities Fund I, LP led the round, including an Ares Infrastructure Opportunities fund and the Ontario Power Generation Pension Fund.
Swell, based in Santa Monica, California, is developing 350 MWh of VPPs using 16,000 battery storage systems installed in homes and businesses. In territories such as Hawaii, California, and New York, the company offers a variety of grid service capabilities.
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“By coordinating distributed energy resources across the grid to intelligently meet fluctuating demand, Swell’s AI- and machine learning-driven platform helps address a major challenge of the energy transition while lowering customers’ bills,” said Ben Parton, Director at SoftBank Group.
According to the company, venture capital funding will support existing VPP development and the deployment of an additional 200 MWh of contracted capacity via approximately 10,000 energy storage systems that will integrate into new VPPs across the United States.
Swell creates VPPs by aggregating distributed energy resources and connecting utilities, customers, and third-party service providers. Working with utilities to compensate customers for operating their batteries for savings and security, in particular, contributes to creating a cohesive network of solar-powered batteries that supports overall grid reliability, stability, and sustainability.
“Swell is at the forefront of executing on the promise of virtual power plants, which we believe can be one of the most important and necessary advancements in smart grid service technologies available,” said Keith Derman, Partner and Co-Head of the Ares Infrastructure Opportunities strategy.
Swell is accelerating the mass adoption of distributed clean energy technologies
To control costs and the increasing frequency of power outages, homeowners and businesses are utilizing more renewable energy sources and battery storage, and utilities are working to provide customers with cleaner and more reliable energy.
“Swell’s business model is an innovative application of existing technology directly solving two large issues plaguing the grid and renewable energy adoption: transmission and load shifting,” said Ben Baker, Managing Director and Principal of Greenbacker Development Opportunities Fund.
In underserved markets where essential grid services are required to fortify and update infrastructure, Swell is seeking development. Local systems must change, for instance, in New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and important western and southern states to handle greater renewable energy and the use of electric vehicles.
“Utilities and investors have understood the importance of virtual power plants for some time now; this funding further signals that the capital markets see tremendous value in this new asset class,” said Suleman Khan, CEO of Swell Energy.
Swell has now raised $152 million in total equity capital, including past investments from the Ares Infrastructure Opportunities fund, Aligned Climate Capital, Third Sphere, and other parties. Citi served as the only placement agency in this deal.
“Virtual power plants are the key to a cleaner energy future at scale. Through the use of our GridAmp software, we are dedicated to enabling an accelerated transition to a carbon-neutral future compatible with the needs of both utilities and the communities they serve,” added Khan.