Bigger fish are taking greater interest in the mid-tier energy storage market, looking to capitalize on technological advances and the introduction of energy storage mandates and development programs by governments in California, Hawaii, New York and Puerto Rico.
Following the path of entrepreneurial startups such as Santa Clara, California’s Green Charge Networks, Sharp Electronics on July 29 announced its SmartStorage solution is now available throughout the Golden State.
Akin to Green Charge’s GreenStation, Sharp’s SmartStorage system employs the latest in lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery storage technology and intelligent demand response (DR) software algorithms to enable commercial and industrial utility customers to better manage electricity consumption — specifically demand charges. In contrast to standard residential rates, which have been falling, utility demand charges have been rising at some 10 percent per year.
Sharp’s mid-tier SmartStorage Solution
Highlighting the 15 percent-plus hike in demand charges imposed by San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE) this past June, Sharp says SmartStorage can lower demand charges for building and facility owners whether installed as a stand-alone solution or deployed as a component of a solar photovoltaic (PV) energy system.
Sharp says SmartStorage users can expect a return on investment yield of 15 percent during the first year of operations, with internal rates of return of 20 percent possible. Commenting on the company’s entry into California’s nascent commercial energy storage market, Sharp Energy Systems and Services Group General Manager Carl Mansfield stated:
“We are confident that our SmartStorage product brings Sharp’s innovation, reliability and quality to the emerging energy storage market. Our product’s combination of cutting-edge hardware, integrated with Sharp’s unique software, and backed by our 10-year O&M service and performance guarantee provides a turnkey solution that works widely for commercial and industrial business owners.”
A clean-energy game-changer?
Developed at Sharp Laboratories of America in Camas, Washington, Sharp intends to expand SmartStorage availability to other states in the second half of 2014. Besides California, Hawaii, New York and Puerto Rico are likely candidates, as is the Canadian province of Ontario.
On July 30, Austin, Texas-based Ideal Power announced the signing of a multi-year purchase agreement that will see SmartStorage systems equipped with Ideal Power’s 30 kilowatt (kW) battery converters, which combine the functions of DC-AC inverters and battery chargers. Ideal Power’s battery converters are also used by Green Charge Networks.
Sharp’s SmartStorage and other mid-tier intelligent energy storage solutions will enhance access and alter the power and energy market playing field in California, according to Brandon Conard, chief strategy officer at integrated energy solutions company HelioPower:
“HelioPower views SmartStorage as a game-changer for clean-energy in California. Previously, there was no good solution for buildings with either crowded roofs or high demand charges. We have reviewed a number of other emerging storage offers and believe that SmartStorage, backed by Sharp’s world-class combination of technology, reliability and service track record, is the best product in the market.”
HelioPower manages more than 4,000 solar and clean energy facilities in California. Sharp is working with clean energy project developers around the state with an eye towards ramping up SmartStorage deployments. The intelligent energy storage solution has been rigorously tested to assure quality and validate reliability and performance over an 18-month period at a commercial building pilot deployment in downtown San Diego, according to the company.
*Image credits: 1) Sharp Corp.; 2) Eamon Keane, Seeking Alpha; 3) Ideal Power