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Recent Deals and Increased Awareness Highlight Growing Impact of Energy Storage

March 6, 2015
Several recent announcements highlight the growing importance of storage and the desire among diverse companies to have a role in developing a solution.

Improvements in energy storage technologies to improve their performance and lower their cost, along with further advances in their applications, are considered the critical missing piece to several puzzles of the modern energy picture. From demand response to integrating renewable sources into the grid to making the grid more resilient to attacks and disruptions to encouraging further adoption of rooftop solar systems, microgrids and other methods of distributing generation, a robust and cost-effective storage solution would change the power picture dramatically, making all of it simpler.

Several recent announcements highlight the growing importance of storage and the desire among diverse companies to have a role in developing a solution.

Solar developer SunEdison announced it was acquiring assets of Solar Grid Storage, Philadelphia, in a deal that will make it the first major renewable energy developer that can combine solar and wind offerings with onsite battery storage. The deal includes the Solar Grid Storage project development team, four existing projects, and a project pipeline of roughly 100 megawatts (MW). Solar Grid Storage specializes in packaging lithium-ion batteries and inverters with commercial solar photovoltaic (PV) projects, and offering frequency regulation services.

“Storage is a perfect complement to our business model and to our wind and solar expertise,” said Tim Derrick, general manager of SunEdison Advanced Solutions. “Our strategy is to increase the value of the solar and wind projects that we finance, develop, own, and operate by improving their availability and ability to interact with the grid. With this acquisition we have added the capability to pair energy storage with solar and wind projects, thereby creating more valuable projects and positioning ourselves as a leader in the rapidly growing energy storage market.”

Solar Grid Storage will integrate its solar-plus-storage control services with the SunEdison Renewable Operation Center, enabling global 24x7 management, monitoring and reporting services for energy storage assets.

Caterpillar announced an equity investment in Fluidic Energy as part of an agreement to develop advanced energy storage solutions for emerging markets. Caterpillar, already active in generators, will work with Fluidic to develop solutions that use rechargeable metal-air technology for telecommunications and other microgrid applications, concentrating on emerging markets and remote locations.

Fluidic Energy’s metal-air technology “enables extended runtimes, offers a modular architecture for scalability, delivers long-life performance in an environmentally friendly package, and supports remote monitoring for real-time site visibility, battery control and monitoring, and uptime analysis,” said a Caterpillar release.

Fluidic Energy has installed more than 35,000 energy storage cells at commercial customer locations globally since 2012. Jointly developed energy storage solutions from Caterpillar and Fluidic Energy will be available through the Cat dealer network later this year.

Greentech Media (GTM) Research is launching an Energy Storage Tracker in cooperation with the Energy Storage Association (ESA) to help people stay on top of that market. The Boston-based research and media firm estimates that the U.S. energy storage market will grow 250% in 2015, from 62MW in 2014 to 220MW this year, and growth should continue at a rapid clip thereafter.

“Over the course of the past year, 180 grid-connected electrochemical and electromechanical storage installations came online, representing 61.9 megawatts of power capacity. That’s up 40 percent from the 44.2 megawatts completed in 2013,” according to the report. GTM expects behind-the-meter storage to account for 45% of the overall market by 2019, up from just 10% in 2014.

Driven primarily by regulatory mandates in the United States, Europe, and Asia Pacific, the industry as a whole took significant steps forward, GTM said. “Battery and other system component costs have been falling rapidly, allowing energy storage to become an economical alternative to traditional power generation for certain applications. Distributed and behind-the-meter energy storage systems have been making a significant impact on the global market over the past year due to their flexibility and innovative financing models.”