Energy Storage North America: Standing room only

The annual Energy Storage North America show in San Jose was a sold-out success, with affirmations from a variety of large utility representatives that they planned to move forward with energy storage projects even if the economics argument was not clearly in place yet. California and Hawaii utilities led the chorus but other speakers made clear that utilities in New York, in Illinois and in some of the dozen states covered by the PJM transmission group also would be contracting for energy storage capacity and/or services over the near term.

Janice Lin, the show developer and co-founder of the California Energy Storage Association, said, “Energy storage is a game changer for the electric power system, and this year’s ESNA event truly represents that.” She highlighted the utility vow as one of the most important messages heard during the event. Another important message was the recognition of energy storage policy development work in California under Carla Peterman, commissioner of the California Public Utilities Commission, and from legislation author and State Assembly member Nancy Skinner; the state requirement for 1.3 GW of utility storage by 2020 now leads the country.

The show this year was roundly said to have doubled in size, and included more than 1,300 pre-registered attendees from 26 countries, 50 exhibitors, nearly 110 speakers, over 40 conference sessions, and local tours of energy storage installations.

Among Innovation Award Winners at the show this year was Abengoa’s Solana Concentrating Solar Power Plant, in Gila Bend, Arizona, a 280 MW parabolic trough solar plant with thermal storage that can yield power for six hours after sundown. The facility is the first utility-scale solar plant in the United States with substantial thermal energy storage capability. The electricity from the plant is consumed by Arizona Public Power, and financing of the $2 billion facility included a federal loan guarantee of $1.45 billion from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Federal Loan Guarantee Program.