Fueled by power market reform and technological advances, investor enthusiasm regarding the commercial prospects of advanced energy storage technology is on the rise. A study by the Electric Power Research Institute and the U.S. Department of Energy determined annual savings of $50 billion could be realized by deploying energy storage systems across the U.S. power grid.
Savings of this magnitude, along with market researchers predicting rapid growth in revenues, is stoking investors' appetite for pioneering young companies that have proven their advanced energy storage solutions commercially. Among this small but growing set is Millbrae, California-based Stem, whose technology is capable of managing fleets of distributed energy storage systems so as to meet or exceed grid operators' needs and yield attractive financial returns and environmental benefits.
On Jan. 7 Stem announced it had closed a $27 million equity financing round. Constellation Technology Ventures and Total Energy Ventures joined earlier investors, including GE Ventures, that see energy storage playing a growing role in the U.S. power grid, both in front of and behind the meter, and Stem's technology helping drive that growth.
Back in November, Stem was one of three pioneering power technology companies awarded contracts by Southern California Edison (SCE) to deploy advanced energy storage systems “behind the meter” at utility customer sites. SCE's solicitation to include distributed energy storage solutions as a means of meeting forecast local capacity requirements marked a milestone in U.S. power industry history.
Kicking off California investor-owned utilities' drive to acquire 1.325 gigawatts of energy storage capacity by 2020, SCE awarded Stem a multi-year contract to deploy 85 megawatts of power storage capacity. Commenting on SCE's distributed energy storage contract awards, California Energy Storage Alliance Executive Director Janice Lin stated: “This is a major win for behind-the-meter storage, demonstrating that this technology is a valuable tool for both utilities and their commercial and industrial customers ... SCE is a pioneer in leveraging customer-sited storage for local capacity requirements and should be commended for its efforts to make storage an integral part of its operations.”
“Energy storage is becoming an increasingly important energy and demand management solution for customers and utilities. We view Stem among the leaders in this market and look forward to taking an active role in facilitating Stem's nationwide expansion.”
“Total is always looking for ways to optimize its operations, and smart energy solutions like Stem's play an important role in strengthening the service we offer our customers. We believe Stem's combined storage and software system adds considerable value to our offering and that of our affiliates.”
*Images credit: 1) Stem; 2) Eos Energy Storage
An experienced, independent journalist, editor and researcher, Andrew has crisscrossed the globe while reporting on sustainability, corporate social responsibility, social and environmental entrepreneurship, renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean technology. He studied geology at CU, Boulder, has an MBA in finance from Pace University, and completed a certificate program in international governance for biodiversity at UN University in Japan.