Utility heavyweights gather for US event

Many of the world’s most important energy storage companies are about to gather at the Energy Storage USA 2015 conference in San Diego. Photo credit: Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Many of the world’s most important energy storage companies are about to gather at the Energy Storage USA 2015 conference in San Diego. Photo credit: PG&E

By Jason Deign

Speakers representing some of the world’s most important energy storage purchasers are set to gather at the Energy Storage USA 2015 conference in a fortnight.

Scheduled to appear at the event are utility heavyweights of the stature of Southern California Edison (SCE), Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), NextEra Energy Resources, E.ON and Burbank Water and Power.

The line-up promises to give attendees unparalleled access to decision makers in charge of energy storage selection, said Jack Ahearne, head of strategy and development for Energy Storage Update.

“The timing of this event is highly significant for those seeking to commercialise energy storage in the USA,” he said.

“Energy storage is now a real focus for government bodies such as the DoE and major institutional investors from around the world. Any company serious about developing energy storage in the US will want to make sure they attend.”

Commercialising energy storage

Efforts to commercialise energy storage in the US were given a boost this month when news broke that the government had attracted USD$4bn in renewable energy funding from private-sector backers.
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One battery to rule them all?

After the Tesla Powerwall launch, there is reason to think lithium-ion batteries could become the overwhelming technology of choice for battery storage. Photo: Tesla Gigafactory

After the Tesla Powerwall launch, there is reason to think lithium-ion batteries could become the overwhelming technology of choice for battery storage. Photo: possible Tesla Gigafactory design.

By Jason Deign

The Tesla Powerwall launch three weeks ago focused attention on energy storage but may also have been a nail in the coffin for non-lithium-ion (Li-ion) technologies.

In drastically reducing prices, Tesla removed one of the remaining barriers to adoption of Li-ion as the standard for battery storage.

Currently other technologies are vying for supremacy on the basis of cost, safety, performance and bankability.

However, the launch of a residential battery system for USD$3,500 helped lay to rest the idea that Li-ion is automatically more expensive than other chemistries.

Even Tesla’s grid-scale Li-ion offering, the Powerpack, looks competitive with the most cost-effective battery technologies out there.
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Renewable producers target short-term storage

Independent power producers and energy storage: IPPs are likely to focus on short-term energy storage in markets like California, SunEdison says. Photo: A SunEdison Outdoor Microstation

Independent power producers and energy storage: IPPs are likely to focus on short-term energy storage in markets like California, SunEdison says. Photo: A SunEdison Outdoor Microstation.

By Jason Deign

Independent power producers (IPP) considering the booming California energy storage market will most likely target short-term, power-based applications, Energy Storage Report has learned.

“IPPs will focus on power applications just because of the design of the [storage] target,” said SunEdison’s director of Grid Energy Storage, Faisal El Azzouzi, ahead of his appearance at Energy Storage USA 2015.

SunEdison is evaluating energy storage technologies and applications with a view to possible deployment in California, where a 1.3GW mandate through Assembly Bill 2514 (AB2514) is creating interest in new projects.

However, said El Azzouzi, the structure of the Californian market drives IPPs to focus on short-term storage applications and leave longer-duration tasks, such as energy shifting, to the utilities.
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US energy storage gets serious this summer

Energy Storage USA 2015 will come at a critical time when energy storage deployments are beginning to gather momentum. Photo credit: San Diego Gas & Electric

Energy Storage USA 2015 will come at a critical time when energy storage deployments are beginning to gather momentum. Photo credit: San Diego Gas & Electric

The commercial value of grid-scale energy storage looks set to undergo its strongest test to date in the USA this summer.

California’s grid is expected to strain as the impact of midday solar power production and afternoon air conditioning rises to highest-ever levels, with only energy storage promising to curtail the system operator’s infamous ‘duck curve’ in net load.

Meanwhile New York State is rushing to deploy energy storage before the shutdown of the last nuclear reactor at the Indian Point Energy Center at the end of this year. It too will be looking to use energy storage to cope with air-con loads over the summer.

Against this backdrop, utilities will be gathering at Energy Storage USA 2015 in San Diego to review progress on early pilots in California and elsewhere.
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