Construction and mining manufacturer Caterpillar has launched an integrated microgrid solution that combines solar PV and energy storage with the company’s power generation equipment.
The company’s Cat Microgrid Technology can be scaled from 10 kW to 100 MW and configured to include thin-film solar panels, Caterpillar generators and storage devices such as ultracapacitors or lithium-ion batteries.
Caterpillar is targeting islanded applications such as telecommunications towers, rural areas, and mining and industrial facilities for its microgrid solution.
Caterpillar, best known for bulldozers and generators, has joined the ranks of large industrial companies entering the storage and microgrid markets.
Last month, Lockheed Martin entered the storage market with a push into lithium-ion batteries and plans to commercialize a new flow battery design. Lockheed Martin joined the ranks of companies such as ABB, General Electric, LG Chem, Panasonic, Samsung and Tesla Motors in the storage market.
Caterpillar, however, comes to the storage and microgrid market with years of experience in power generation, as both a provider of generators and as a developer of power projects.
Caterpillar’s entry into the microgrid market builds on the strategic alliance the company formed just over one year ago with First Solar. Together the companies are developing solar panels for microgrids. First Solar will manufacture the panels, which will be “Cat-branded” and bundled with Caterpillar microgrid equipment.
Caterpillar also has an equity investment in Fluidic Energy as part of an agreement to develop advanced energy storage solutions for emerging markets using a rechargeable metal-air technology.
“With the declining cost of renewable energy sources and rapid advances in energy storage technology, the time is right to provide an integrated application for remote power,” said Rick Rathe, general manager of new ventures for Caterpillar’s electric power business, in a statement.