Energy storage, batteries flourish at SPI 2014

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Perhaps the most notable among battery and energy storage launches was Enphase’s AC Battery unit, powered by Daiwa House-backed ELIIY Power lithium-ion chemistry, and offering 1.2 kWh of energy storage with a 275 Watt to 550 Watt power output. Enphase is rolling out pilot tests in the United States, Europe and Australia and will begin shipping in the second half of 2015. "We want to do for energy storage what we’ve done for PV," says company co-founder Raghu Belur.

Among many other notable announcements from battery and energy storage companies during the show were the following:

Aquion Energy, which manufactures an aqueous lithium-sodium battery with no hazardous components, plans to ramp up next year from one to three work shifts, heading toward their 240 MW per hour production capability, says Jay Whitacre, the founder and CTO of the Pittsburgh-based company. Aquion’s six-stack module, roughly the size of a refrigerator, can produce 10 kilowatt hours. Their larger 100 kilowatt-hour cube module was recently deployed in Hawaii, where 40 units will be shipped during first quarter 2015, he says.

Stem was awarded a $935,000 SunShot grant from the U.S. Department of Energy during the show to develop an advanced software platform for energy storage evaluation and automated system control to improve the application of distributed storage in areas with high PV penetration, notes John Carrington, the CEO of the company. The grant continues Stem work with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District in analyzing the impact of high penetration solar PV on the grid.

Just before the show, Millbrae, California-based Stem announced a strategic partnership with Kyocera Solar to pursue energy story markets in California, Hawaii, New York and other jurisdictions. Thus far, only about 10% of Stem’s project business is linked to PV capacity, but that number is expected to rise, Carrington says. The company plans to roll out a larger format version of its product during first-quarter 2015.

S&C, based in Chicago, touted its recently-installed 150 kW frequency response storage system built to provide grid service to the PJM market. The PureWave Community Energy Storage product line features a proprietary control system for the battery stacks, typically housing LG or NGK batteries, notes David Chiesa, S&C’s director of business development for commercial, industrial and microgrid sales.

S&C also announced a contract for the sale of 20 PureWave systems to Ergon Energy, the Australian utility, for grid utility support of their single wire earth return (SWER) network. Each of the 25 kW PureWave units provides 100 kilowatt hours of energy, which could power an average home for five days during an outage. "We recently doubled the size of our plant in Franklin, Wisconsin, in anticipation of this market demand," Chiesa says.

Outback Power, based in Arlington, Washington, launched its FLEXpower Three and Four models at SPI, which support larger power installations. Model Three is a 120/208VAC 60Hz design for three phase applications, available in 9 kW and 10.8 kW configurations. Model Four is a 120/240VAC split-phase design for larger installations including residential, commercial, or community systems, available in 12 kW and 14.4 kW configurations. The company also launched its OPTICS RE monitoring system that is Internet based, permitting remote energy arbitrage operations.

Among other standout battery manufacturers displaying systems at the show were BYD, Maxwell Technologies, Rolls Battery Engineering, Saft America, Samsung, Sonnenbatterie, Trojan Battery and Varta Storage, within a field of over two dozen companies exhibiting.

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