Sharp: it’s the economy, stupid

Sharp is offering financing to make it easier for customers to buy storage products.

Sharp is offering financing to make it easier for customers to buy storage products. Pic: Otsu4, used under Creative Commons licence.

By Jason Deign

Electronics giant Sharp is pinning its hopes on no-brain financing to gain an uptick in underperforming US commercial and industrial (C&I) energy storage sales.

In September the company, which is an important solar panel maker, introduced a new financing programme for commercial SmartStorage energy storage systems sold with PV.

The no-money-down finance offer is provided by an un-named lender with capacity for up to USD$25m in project funding, equating to around 12MW of installed capacity over the next 12 months.

The financing packages are designed to give C&I customers a saving of at least 5% of annual utility costs, with no upfront investment.

The customer signs an energy service contract similar to a power-purchase agreement, explained Carl Mansfield, general manager and founder of Sharp’s Energy Systems and Services Group. 
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Sharp’s money magic makes storage more viable

New Sharp energy storage finance packages and solar plus storage bundles are being pushed at the commercial and industrial market in California.

New Sharp energy storage finance packages and solar plus storage bundles are being pushed at the commercial and industrial market in California. Photo: Miyuki Meinaka

By Jason Deign

Sharp is relying on financial nous as well as technical expertise to improve the numbers for commercial and industrial energy storage in the US.

Tricks such as providing financing packages or bundling storage with solar to take advantage of investment tax credits are helping to make projects more viable, said Carl Mansfield of Sharp’s Energy Systems and Services Group.

The moves are in response to complications with California’s Assembly Bill 2514 incentive scheme, he said.

Earlier this year, “one of the things that changed in California was that the incentive programme became log-jammed,” said Mansfield, who is general manager and founder of the Energy Systems and Services Group.

“We’ve been working through the past several months with models where the deployment doesn’t really need that incentive in order to be viable.”
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Sharp eyes $100m US commercial opportunity

SmartStorage, the Sharp energy storage system, is being targeted at commercial and industrial customers as Sharp see no value in the utility and residential energy storage markets for now.

SmartStorage, the Sharp energy storage system, is being targeted at the commercial market as Sharp see no value in utility and residential energy storage in the US for now. Photo credit: Miyuki Meinaka

Sharp is aiming to make around USD$100m from the commercial energy storage market in the next couple of years, according to a senior US executive.

Sharp’s Energy Systems and Services Group general manager and founder, Carl Mansfield, told Energy Storage Report the company already has a pipeline of up to 400 customer sites under review.

Last week the electronics giant unveiled a 30kW installation with Baker Electric, one of its US energy storage channel partners.

Sharp, which launched its SmartStorage product line last year, is also eyeing expansion of its US-based energy storage products into Japan, Mansfield said. “We are in the process of adapting this product for the Japanese market,” he confirmed.

He said Sharp believes there is “a pretty big opportunity for commercial demand response based on batteries.”
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Britain bets on graphene

Discovered by scientists at Manchester University in 2005, graphene has a wealth of potential applications related to both renewables and energy storage – as well as flexible electronics and opto-electronics, and much more.

It is also having a lot of UK government money thrown at it, according to the BBC. The UKP 21.5 million promised by British finance minister George Osborne will come from an earlier funding allocation, and – it is hoped – will be matched by another UKP 14 million from industry and universities.

Amongst the commercial partners will be  Nokia, BAE Systems, Procter & Gamble, Qinetiq, Rolls-Royce, Dyson, Sharp and Philips Research.