don’t mind spending more money as long as it’s going to reduce
their carbon emissions,” she said.
Control Systems Will Unlock Battery Potential in the Future
Outside of purchasing a standalone energy storage system for
standby power, another real potential for energy storage suppliers to make money is in the future grid scenario that was laid
out in a recent Navigant/Renewable Energy World webcast titled
“The Integrated DER Ecosystem: DER, Network Orchestrators and
Platforms for Growth in the Energy Cloud.”
By Navigant’s defnition, distributed energy resources (DERs)
consist of distributed generation (solar PV, small wind, micro-turbines, fuel cells, natural gas and diesel gen sets); energy storage systems (batteries and the like); microgrids; EV charging
loads; and demand response. With such a large array of resources, the linchpin will be the software that controls the assets.
Redfow’s Dart explained that software providers, such as Geli
and the Greensmith, will help grow the energy storage market.
In the simplest terms, she explained that “you can have a battery
there but if it’s not being operated correctly it’s not going to make
“If it is operating at the wrong time; if it is charging at peak
time and discharging at off-peak that’s exactly the opposite of
what you want,” said Dart.
Further, there are models being proposed in which a utility
might lease a battery storage system to a homeowner with a provision that the utility is able to operate that battery up to 5 percent of the time during peak demand.
In this scenario, the control system needs to determine when
those peak events are happening, charge or discharge accordingly in order to prepare for those peak events, operate during
that peak event, and then after the peak event make sure that
the system isn’t creating a new peak event by recharging right
away, said Dart.
“So you have to have pretty robust communications and control systems in place to be able to speak to the utility in a comprehensible way,” explained Dart.
SolarCity is one potential utility partner that is hoping to
provide these types of grid services to utilities, according to
Ryan Hanley, VP of Grid Services, and a speaker on the Navi-gant webcast.
Hanley explained that SolarCity sees itself profting “from
deploying assets, it also can
come from pay-for-perfor-
mance in providing grid ser-
vices and from software
licenses,” he said, adding “If
we are providing the ability
for operators to dynamical-
ly control these assets there
could be software-as-a-ser-
vice plays either for us or
other folks that are providing
SolarCity is participat-
ing in several pilot projects
with utilities in California
to study how to dynamical-
ly control grid assets that
include batteries in hopes
of understanding how to be
proftable in a market that
uses energy storage, solar
and other DERs. New York
is also paying close atten-
tion to this new energy par-
adigm as are other states.
But at this point, almost all
of the projects out there are
studies and it will likely be
many years before we have
real clarity on the value of
energy storage. Further, it’s
important to note that neither
Redfow nor SolarCity are
proftable companies yet.
Andy Skumanich offers
what might be a realistic
“Simply as a value proposition, energy storage is not
there and that’s kind of the
bottom line. It won’t be there
for another decade.” à