The value that led Enel to buy Demand Energy

Demand Energy installations are impressive... but it's the invisible energy storage software controlling them that is the real attraction for Enel. Pic: Demand Energy

Demand Energy installations are impressive… but it’s the invisible energy storage software controlling them that is the real attraction for Enel. Pic: Demand Energy.

By Jason Deign

Enel’s buyout of US project developer Demand Energy last week was largely down to a secret ingredient that has been cooking for several years.

While Washington State-based Demand Energy has a decent portfolio of projects in New York and closed last year with a microgrid deal in Costa Rica, the real lure for Enel is understood to have been its software platform, DEN.OS.

DEN.OS, which stands for ‘Distributed Energy Network Optimization System’, is a cloud-based platform for integrating energy storage and distributed generation that Demand Energy has perfected over the last eight years.

A critical early challenge facing the company was how to adapt its software to work in New York, a market characterised by longer-duration storage applications.

The market was of interest because the state’s Reforming the Energy Vision plan was creating new opportunities for storage to complement distributed generation in reducing demand, shifting load and adding resiliency. 
Read more →

Demand Energy ends year with Costa Rica deal

Demand Energy's battery systems will go towards helping Costa Rica maintain its pristine environment. Pic: Pixabay.

Demand Energy’s battery systems will go towards helping Costa Rica maintain its pristine environment. Pic: Pixabay.

By Jason Deign

Energy storage systems developer Demand Energy and Latin America microgrid pioneer Rio Grande Renewables this week announced a record-breaking project in Costa Rica.

The two companies have commissioned a battery storage-plus-solar-PV microgrid at Establishment Labs, a Costa Rican medical manufacturing plant, said Demand Energy in a press release.

The microgrid is said to be the largest in Central America and includes a 500kW, 1MWh lithium-ion battery connected to 276kW of solar PV.

The system is designed to provide multiple on-site and grid-assisting services, including peak demand reduction, solar variability smoothing and backup power for critical loads in the event of an outage.

It is controlled by Demand Energy’s Distributed Energy Network Operating System (DEN.OS™), which optimises how energy storage, distributed generation and other distributed energy resources interact and perform. 
Read more →

Azores project key for island microgrid credibility

Gorona del Viento: poor performance means other island microgrids are under scrutiny. Photo: www.animam.photography.

Gorona del Viento: poor performance means other island storage projects are under scrutiny. Photo: www.animam.photography.

By Jason Deign

A project on Graciosa, Azores, has become key for the credibility of island-based storage following concerns over another plant more than 1,500km away.

The Younicos project on Graciosa is set to go live within weeks amid speculation that another attempt to power an island off renewables, in El Hierro, Canary Islands, has failed to meet expectations.

El Hierro’s Gorona del Viento plant, which combines an 11.5MW wind farm with a pumped hydro storage system, was launched with much fanfare in 2014. Its initial aim was to replace 80% of diesel generation needed for the island grid.

Last month, the plant operator revealed the EUR€82m Gorona del Viento had allowed El Hierro to run continuously off nothing but renewable energy for 55 hours.

And last week Gorona del Viento said the plant supplied 67% of the island’s power throughout July and had set a new record of 76 hours with 100% renewable production.
Read more →

AMS on growth plans, new investor

The rapid growth of Advanced Microgrid Solutions continues as it prepares to announce a new major global investor, after signing contracts for Tesla energy storage, and with Shell and Southern California Edison. Photo credit: Tesla Motors

Advanced Microgrid Solutions is set to announce a new major global investor, after signing contracts for Tesla energy storage, and with Shell and Southern California Edison. Photo credit: Tesla Motors

By Jason Deign

San Francisco, California-based start-up Advanced Microgrid Solutions (AMS) has confirmed it is set to announce “a very large global strategic” investor, probably later this month.

The investor, described as being active “both on the investment side and on the energy generation owner and service side” is set to join existing backer DBL Partners in an “over-subscribed” USD$10m new funding tranche.
Read more →

Could microgrids save lives on remote islands?

Island energy storage: could islanded microgrid systems have helped in the Vanuatu cyclone Pam disaster?

Island energy storage: could islanded microgrid systems have helped in the Vanuatu cyclone Pam disaster? Photo credit: UNICEF Pacific

Upcoming debate on energy storage in microgrids was given a sense of urgency over the weekend as Cyclone Pam tore across Vanuatu in the Pacific.

As the devastated island nation issued a plea for international help, one of the questions facing the government and aid workers was how to restore power… and whether current fossil-fuelled generation sources should be replaced by renewable energy.

Like many island nations, Vanuatu has traditionally got most of its power from imported fossil fuels.

In 2010, for example, the nation’s main utility, the GDF Suez subsidiary Union Electrique du Vanuatu Limited (UNELCO), generated 68.7GWh of power using 14.3 megalitres of imported diesel along with 251 kilolitres of biofuel from coconut oil.

This reliance on imported fuel was already creating problems for the country before this weekend’s catastrophe. “The Government has been concerned for a number of years over the high cost of electricity,” noted the International Renewable Energy Agency.
Read more →

NY-BEST presents microgrids forum

The New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium (NY-BEST) and the Pace Energy and Climate Center will explore the current policies and markets for microgrids in a special forum on June 11 at Pace University’s New York City campus.

Speakers at the event will include professionals from AES Energy Storage, the Pace Energy and Climate Center, Consolidated Edison of New York, Demand Energy, DNV KEMA, S&C Electric, the New York Energy Policy Institute, the Smart Grid Consortium and others.

Report: 480 microgrid projects globally

Many new microgrid projects are still under the radar and many local projects originate organically without official designations or titles, making them very hard to track, according to a new report from Navigant Research. As a sector, however, microgrids are beginning to move into the mainstream, with a greater focus being placed on viable business models.

More than 480 microgrid projects are proposed, planned, under construction, or operating worldwide, representing nearly 3.8GW of capacity. The report, Microgrid Deployment Tracker 2Q13, details the rated capacity, duration and types of energy storage for each project.