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Parts of a flow battery at the Fraunhofer Institute in Pfinztal, Germany. Photo: Sebastian Gollnow/picture alliance via Getty Images

German insurance company Munich Re will now offer long-term insurance on battery performance in energy storage systems, a move that could reduce barriers to investment in energy technologies.

Why it matters: Large-scale renewable energy systems are expensive and complex, and in some cases their manufacturers have declared bankruptcy before the end of their systems' maintenance and warranty periods. Insuring against such risks — as well as those associated with relatively untested new battery chemistries — could spur adoption of innovative technologies by utilities and transportation providers and in off-grid applications.

How it works: For the purchaser, a 10-year warranty reduces the financial risk for both upfront and maintenance costs and increases confidence in the technology's performance. For the insurer and manufacturer, such programs could speed up development and installation, as the lack of insurance options for energy storage projects is holding back development.

  • Offering an insurance product allows the manufacturer to more easily obtain financing for specific projects because warranty costs would be capped by the insurance policy.

Where it stands: The initial insurance offering will be for large projects to stabilize electric grids and improve performance during periods of peak power demand.

What to watch: Battery life and replacement costs have been major concerns with electric vehicles, as have 10-year warranties that in some cases outlast their manufacturers. When Fisker, maker of the EV Vehicle Karma, entered bankruptcy in 2012, owners were left with coverage of only $2000 per vehicle.

  • Future policies may extend further into mobility markets, offering more robust consumer protections.

Maggie Teliska is a technical specialist at Caldwell Intellectual Property Law, an intellectual property law firm, and CTO of Regent Power. She is also a member of GLG, a platform connecting businesses with industry experts.

Go deeper

Senate confirms retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as defense secretary

Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

The Senate voted 93-2 on Friday to confirm retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as secretary of defense. Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) were the sole "no" votes.

Why it matters: Austin is the first Black American to lead the Pentagon and President Biden's second Cabinet nominee to be confirmed.

House will transmit article of impeachment to Senate on Monday, Schumer says

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that the House will deliver the article of impeachment against former President Trump for "incitement of insurrection" on Monday.

Why it matters: The Senate is required to begin the impeachment trial at 1pm the day after the article is transmitted.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Private equity bets on delayed tax reform in Biden administration

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

In normal times, private equity would be nervous about Democratic Party control of both the White House and Congress. But in pandemic-consumed 2021, the industry seems sanguine.

Driving the news: Industry executives and lobbyists paid very close attention to Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen's confirmation hearings this week, and came away convinced that tax reform isn't on the near-term agenda.