- Briggs & Stratton Corp., the world's largest producer of gasoline engines for outdoor power equipment, has acquired energy storage company SimpliPhi Power, marking an expansion by the equipment manufacturer into the energy storage market.
- California-based SimpliPhi markets battery storage systems for residential, utility and commercial & industrial customers and offers its own energy management software. The company produces lithium-ion phosphate (LFP) batteries that do not require cobalt and do not carry the risk of thermal runaway.
- Under the acquisition, SimpliPhi will continue to produce and offer its own products through existing distribution channels and partnerships as well as working through Briggs & Stratton's distribution. SimpliPhi CEO Catherine Von Burg said the acquisition will help the company "accelerate our growth and grow exponentially," especially amid growing demand for energy storage.
SimpliPhi grew from offering mobile power to film and TV sets to providing energy storage to a range of business services in 2010. Von Burg said the company has focused on "innovating around pain points" for its customers, whether that's the intermittency that comes from solar and wind generation or the risk of grid outages. Those demands, she said, have grown over the past decade, especially as aging transmission infrastructure has not held up to more extreme conditions fueled by climate change.
In 2020, Von Burg said, the company exceeded its sales targets by 40% as pandemic lockdowns changed power demand on the grid and a series of natural disasters strained the grid and caused power disruptions. Recently, the company dispatched battery units to Louisiana and Texas to help power areas hit by Hurricane Ida and the subsequent widespread outages.
"People are really looking at being more self-reliant and less dependent on the top-down distribution system. People see how old and antiquated the utility grid is," she said. "We still see the grid as an asset, but it's no longer sufficient. Then the economics, the rising costs of utility rates, the peak demand charges, that's also driving the demand for storage."
The acquisition by Briggs & Stratton is a significant step for the Wisconsin-based generator and engine manufacturer. In a statement, president and CEO Steve Andrews said the move "establishes a strong position for Briggs & Stratton in the high-growth energy storage system market," adding that SimpliPhi Power would supplement the existing "portfolio of power-agnostic products and technology solutions."
Last year, backup power firm Generac, one of the largest diesel generator manufacturers, acquired distributed energy platform Enbala and last month announced that it had embedded Enbala's "Smart Grid Ready" software into its products. According to a Wood Mackenzie forecast, the U.S. storage market will grow to $8.5 billion a year by 2026, boosted by the growth in renewables and demands from climate change.
Von Burg said the Briggs & Stratton acquisition is a "big step" to meeting that demand, whether it is supplementing existing generator customers or growing new market share.
"The proposition is not to make generators obsolete, it is to get the customers additional storage and redundancy so they never lose power and can deploy different sources based on the situation," Von Burg said. "We're not out to eliminate generators or eliminate the grid, the point is to optimize them."