Intersolar NA: Hot topic storage, but business models still rare

Romina Arcamone Garcia from Trojan (left) explains the advanced lead-acid 2.4 kW J200-RE 22 V battery (Photo: Hans-Christoph Neidlein)
Romina Arcamone Garcia from Trojan (left) explains the advanced lead-acid 2.4 kW J200-RE 22 V battery (Photo: Hans-Christoph Neidlein)

With around 18,000 visitors and 550 exhibitors Intersolar North America closed its door Thursday afternoon in San Francisco. The hot topic was solar plus storage, but especially in the residential sector economic viability is still lacking.

Around 100 exhibiting companies presented themselves in the ees – energy storage section of the trade show and several conference sessions focused on the topic. Although the numbers and insights the analysts from GTM Research and IHS presented sometimes curbed the hype a little and brought a more realistic view. 18 MW of solar paired storage systems have been installed in 2015 in the U.S., this year an increase to 91 MW total installed systems is expected.

Though the expectations for the growth within the next five years are high, GTM expects that by 2021 solar paired storage will cross 1.2 GW in the U.S., with a 75 percent share of utility scale plus storage installations. Driving forces are California, Hawaii and some east-coast states where electricity peak load tariffs give especially commercial customers a certain incentive to invest in storage or demand side management or utilities are expected increasingly to remunerate grid services. But in other parts of the U.S. electricity rates are rising slightly, but are still too low to compensate the still relatively high investments costs of storage, Ravi Manghani, Director Energy Storage of GTM Research, had to admit. And discussion questions for specific examples for a profitable return of invest for energy storage in the U.S. remained largely unanswered.

“Utility scale storage can be increasingly a business case in the U.S. within the next five years, but residential storage is still not really economical, not even for back-up solutions,” IHS analyst Sam Wilkinson stressed frankly.

Around 400 residential storage systems Sonnen has so far sold in the U.S., according to Olaf Löhr, Director Business Development. At the moment the company manufactures around 100 units monthly. Costs for a 4 kWh/3 kW system are around $ 7,000.

U.S. manufacturers like MK Battery or Trojan presented advanced lead-acid batteries at Intersolar North America, mainly for off-grid applications. Primarily, they optimize durability and efficiency for partial state of cycle. MK Battery plan to distribute its Ultra Battery in Q1 2017 that also includes a battery management system, Bruce Habeck, Global Director Energy Storage Group said. Trojan showcased its optimized battery J200-RE 22 V for the first time in the U.S. Loading cycles would be improved by 15 percent Romina Arcamone Garcia, Market Manager Renewable Energy & Backup Power with Trojan Battery told S&WE. With wholesale prices between $120-160/kWh the battery would be significantly cheaper than Li-Ion batteries, she stressed. However they need more space, are much heavier and need maintenance since they are fluid systems. Therefore the company sees the main application in off-grid areas.

With its hybrid-ion technology Aquion Energy offers an interesting product, that is cradle to cradle certified and 100 percent recyclable.

Hans-Christoph Neidlein

Similar Entries

Storage system manufacturer TESVOLT is set to unveil its new TS HV 70 high-voltage lithium storage system at Intersolar 2017. The new system features a battery voltage of between 575 and 1,000 volts and has been optimised for use with 3-phase SMA battery inverters. A service life of up to 30 years and the use of especially efficient power electronics and cell technology make the storage system particularly cost effective.

TrinaBESS announced today that the company will introduce its large-scale Energy Storage Solution ‘TrinaMega’ for German Market at Energy Storage Europe 2017, held in Dusseldorf on March 14th - 16th. The event, which has always been influential to German large-scale Energy Storage market, affords TrinaBESS a great opportunity to introduce its new Energy Storage Solution. TrinaMega is a modular design of thousands of lithium-ion battery cells, integrated and controlled by advanced software giving a future-proof alternative to traditional methods by assisting transmission, generation and distribution networks.

A new DNV GL-led consortium, including partners Alfen – manufacturer and end-to-end system integrator of Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) and Peeks – a commercial aggregator for flexibility in the energy system, will provide insight in the social and economic feasibility of community battery systems. One of the results of this partnership includes the investigation of the parameters for a successful community energy storage business case. These parameters will be used to develop a framework for widespread implementation of community storage. This partnership enables a multi-stakeholder approach which is required for an optimal business case, whereas most storage projects focus on a single stakeholder with few benefits.

The commercial storage system manufacturer TESVOLT has supplied a battery storage system for the Coburger Hütte mountain refuge owned by the German Alpine Club (DAV) in Tyrol, Austria. The storage system, with a capacity of 77 kWh, replaces the old lead-acid battery and increases the solar power consumption of the cabin, which is fitted with a 16 kWp solar power system. The entire energy supply installation is tailored to meet the DAV’s stringent environmental and sustainability criteria for mountain regions, and will reduce the consumption of rapeseed oil as fuel.