3 Key Takeaways from Greentech Media’s 2017 Energy Storage Summit
In addition to the excitement of Greentech Media’s 2017 US Energy Storage Summit in San Francisco last week, the Enel X team was also excited to make our first appearance alongside the latest companies to become part of the Enel Group: Demand Energy Networks, which provides a complete turnkey solution for designing, installing, and optimizing the operation of distributed energy resources (DERs) based on its best-in-class DER Optimization Software platform; and eMotorWerks, a leading provider of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and the owner and operator of the JuiceNet platform for the smart management of EV charging and other DERs.
Now that we are all part of a concerted effort to shape the future of the grid, the Energy Storage Summit was a great opportunity to understand the current challenges and opportunities facing the industry. While we could hardly cover all of the innovative ideas and impressive technology that were on display at the event, here are three key takeaways on the major factors driving the industry forward.
1. Value Stacking is Driving Energy Storage Technology Adoption
Of course, many organizations are interested in the resilience and sustainability benefits of an energy storage deployment. However, they will still need to see financial value from a project that requires the deployment of new hardware at their facilities.
Amid the discussion at the Energy Storage Summit, it became clear that the ability to capitalize on multiple value streams has driven C&I enterprises past a tipping point in the adoption of energy storage. These organizations have realized that intelligent energy storage platforms like DER Optimization Software employ real-time optimal control techniques to create revenue through participation in demand response programs or reduce costs by managing demand charges and time-of-use supply charges—all while providing a resource to increase resilience and improve sustainability performance.
This capability is more than a “bonus” benefit from the deployment of storage technology. As market demands, rate structures, and incentive programs continue to evolve, the ability to adapt in real-time is becoming a competitive advantage.
2. Electric Vehicles are the Next Frontier for Energy Storage
Unlocking the full value of the electric vehicle revolution requires the deployment of three technologies.
First, obviously, is the electric vehicle itself—few would argue that this technology hasn’t already reached mainstream capability. Second is the availability and capability of electric charging stations. No one will buy electric vehicles if charging technology isn’t ready to support them.
At the Energy Storage Summit, we got a glimpse at the third pillar of the electric vehicle revolution. Preston Roper, Chief Marketing and Operating Officer for eMotorWerks, participated on a panel discussion on the potential for electric vehicles to act as an additional energy storage resource. As C&I enterprises find themselves increasingly surrounded by high-capacity electric vehicles, they’ll gain access to a network of de facto batteries that can participate in distributed energy and microgrid services.
Key to unlocking this potential is the software to optimize the deployment of this additional resource—whether to provide resilience during a broader grid outage, create direct financial value through cost-reduction efforts or demand response programs, or incorporate electric vehicles into a microgrid deployment. This is the exact kind of opportunity that makes the integration of Demand Energy Networks, eMotorWerks, and Enel X under the Enel umbrella so exciting.
3. Innovative Financing is Reducing the Investment Barrier to C&I Adoption
A major topic of discussion at the event was the emerging opportunity for C&I businesses to incorporate energy storage technology without committing upfront capital to buy and install the hardware.
An increasingly common approach to deploying energy storage benefits both C&I enterprises and the providers that help them install and optimize the technology. Value stacking with energy storage technology means significant cost savings for C&I businesses through reduced electricity bills, in addition to other value from demand response or tax incentive programs. Providers today are financing the purchase and installation of the energy storage hardware on behalf of their C&I partner through an agreement that reimburses the provider’s upfront financing with a percentage of overall savings on the utility bill. The result is an agreement that both eliminates the need for C&Is to commit to a major capital project and incentivizes the provider to optimize the financial value of the storage hardware.
The partnership approach also equips C&I businesses with access to an expert in the energy industry that has a deep understanding of their facilities’ energy and operational needs—enabling them to maximize the value of their distributed energy resources, approach the energy markets strategically, and operate more efficiently.
After an eventful year for Enel X, the Energy Storage Summit was a great opportunity to understand the state of the market as we head into 2018. It’s clear the world of distributed energy resources is rapidly transforming how we interact with the grid—and we couldn’t be more excited to be a part of it.