Distributed Energy Storage Systems: Page 5 of 6

Peter Nortman
Chief technical officer and chief operating officer, CODA Energy, codaenergy.com

What is CODA Energy’s area of expertise?
Our expertise is in complete life-cycle management of sophisticated, distributed and networked energy storage systems. CODA Energy has created and developed a UL-listed and -certified energy storage appliance that we deploy behind the meter in commercial and industrial businesses using a fully financed, zero–up-front cost, 50/50 shared savings model.

Where are your primary geographical markets?
Our commercial and industrial customer base is global. However, not every location offers an incentive program for implementing energy storage to alleviate heavy grid congestion and growing demand, as in California or the US Northeast. Cost savings are the primary market driver for behind-the-meter applications of energy storage, so California’s high commercial demand costs combined with the state’s robust incentive program make it our primary focus today.

What battery technologies are you using in your energy storage systems?
Our current products use lithium iron phosphate battery cells, which offer an excellent combination of safety, cycle life, reliability and operating efficiency. We source our batteries from a variety of vendors, thoroughly vetting each technology in our certified battery testing facility. This allows us to take advantage of declining cell prices and focus on battery management systems and energy management software.

What are the biggest challenges to the increased deployment and commercialization of distributed energy storage solutions?
The industry needs to develop and implement technical standards to transform energy storage from a nascent technology into a safe, plug-and-play appliance. Permitting and interconnection requirements vary greatly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and utility to utility. This lack of standardization is a challenge. Getting our product UL listed for safety, reliability and performance has helped a great deal in expediting the permitting and interconnection process. We also sell to commercial and industrial customers directly, which streamlines communications with authorities having jurisdiction over installation locations.

How do you think the energy storage market will evolve over the next 3–5 years?
Utilities are becoming more progressive as they consider how they can use energy storage and renewable generation to meet growing demand, regulatory requirements and infrastructure upgrade requirements. I expect to see more interplay and interdependency between the solar and storage markets, even if the assets are not colocated.

Ryan O’Keefe
Senior vice president of business development, Ideal Power, idealpower.com

What products does Ideal Power offer for distributed utility-interactive energy storage?
We offer microgrid-forming 30 kW and 125 kW power conversion systems, which are available in both two-port and multiport models. Whereas two-port models have one dc and one ac port, our multiport models have two dc ports in addition to one ac port. These software-driven transformerless power conversion systems enable the integration of multiple energy sources and also provide grid support and enhance grid resiliency. Our systems reduce material costs by eliminating the need for a transformer, and they eliminate double-conversion power losses in bidirectional applications.

How are customers using Ideal Power’s products?
Most of our customers are integrators serving the commercial and industrial market for behind-the-meter peak shaving and demand management applications. Our systems can scale from 30 kW peak to 240 kW peak using one to eight of our 30 kW converters. By the end of the year, our systems will scale from 125 kW to 1+ MW using one to eight of our 125 kW converters.

What battery technologies are compatible with Ideal Power converters?
Our power conversion systems are compatible with and can be optimized for any battery. We have partnered with integrators who use various chemistries, and we have tested the performance of our systems with a number of companies’ batteries. Battery storage systems generally operate 1–4 hours, depending on the application. Integrators typically use lithium-ion batteries in these energy storage systems.

What are the biggest challenges to the increased deployment and commercialization of solar-plus-storage microgrids and distributed energy storage?
Utility integration is, by far, the biggest barrier. Utilities are not yet comfortable with or educated about how to approve interconnect applications. However, this situation is improving. While demand management systems in California have a payback period of 3–5 years—due to high demand rates and local incentives—cost recovery is still an issue in many markets. Codes and standards are also an issue. The interoperability of components that are compatible with diverse utility grids will be important to increasing the deployment of energy storage systems.

What can utility regulators do to improve cost recovery for microgrids and distributed energy storage solutions?
Given their current business model, it is generally not in their best interest for utility regulators to improve cost recovery for these assets. However, programs such as PJM’s frequency regulation market provide appropriate incentives and payback.

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