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What's next for energy storage for demand-side electricity management

Rachel Massaro, V.P. and Don Bray, SEEDZ Executive Director - JVSV
Rachel Massaro, V.P. and Don Bray, SEEDZ Executive Director - JVSV
Michal Lenchner

Energy storage is enabling the deployment of more renewable sources and distributed assets on the grid. Common commercial needs, current battery innovations, and predicted breakthroughs present a flourishing playing-field in the San Francisco Bay Area. According to CalCEF, today there are 128 storage companies in California and the number of players entering the space keeps growing. There is a lot of activity in energy storage in the state: CA leads the nation in the number of battery patents filed (over 230 in recent years) and more than a third of venture investment in energy storage in the past decade has been in Silicon Valley companies.

From storage startups, to customer-side companies, as well as mega-corporations there is a great extent of collaboration with the many Bay Area research and academic institutions in development and testing of battery technologies. Federal and state funding in several initiatives in this geographical zone have also presented a boost. Further, in Silicon Valley there are many customers and technology companies that are highly motivated to incorporate storage systems into their demand-side electricity management operations.

The 2014 Silicon Valley/SEEDZ Energy Storage Symposium focused on the emerging markets for customer-side energy storage systems, trends, and outlook. Matt Roberts, Executive Director of the Energy Storage Association (ESA) spoke about the landscape today and what lies ahead.

“What’s next” in the field of advanced energy storage and the impact on the grid?

The ESA has presented the following lookout:

-The electric grid, in the short term, will inevitably be a combination of central and decentralized assets.

- Changes will happen gradually, at different pace across the nation, where some states will be more progressive and others will be slower to adapt.

- New regulation on the horizon will change the incentives and drivers with innovation on the grid. Several regulatory agencies will address emissions, infrastructure, and overhaul of ancillary and capacity markets.

Today, the storage industry has matured. According to players in the space, utilities are strongly interested in large-scale solutions and the commercial, industrial, and micro-grid markets are picking up.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) spends 80% of its energy budget on field operations; facilities consume 20%. The military has been drawing energy mainly from the grid. Micro grids present a great business case to military safety, operations, and buildings. Utilizing solar, especially in Southern California, Marine bases (including Miramar), has a compelling proposition. Reducing cost of the electricity and also the ability to operate off-the-grid have been of high priority to the Marines. Miramar plans to be net energy neutral and operate off-the-grid for three consecutive days at a time. Primus Power, a venture backed company, is based in Hayward, CA. Primus Power has developed a zinc based flow battery, called the EnergyPod, with support from the DOD. Their Energy Pod solution has been deployed in the project in Miramar.

When a commercial, industrial, or micro-grid customer seek a storage solution, there are several items to consider beyond battery capacity, integration, and management, such as:

  • Discharge/charge reaction
  • Duration
  • Energy to power ratio
  • Thermal impacts
  • Cost
  • Scaling

Justifying the business case and deployment costs has become easier. The energy storage landscape is changing and new market opportunities are emerging on the customer side. Silicon Valley clusters several players as well as customers, and has demonstrated a number of innovative deployments of storage for demand-side electricity management.


1. Joint Venture's "Smart Energy Enterprise Development Zone" (SEEDZ) initiative unites local energy customers, solution providers, municipalities, institutions and utility interests in building the smart energy network of the future – characterized by the highest levels of power reliability, quality, affordability and sustainability. Centered in a zone spanning north Sunnyvale, north Mountain View and Moffett Field, SEEDZ encompasses a portfolio of essential smart energy elements, including practices, standards, and technologies for efficiency, renewable energy, electric transportation, grid performance and business model integration.

The SEEDZ Electric Transportation element includes EV charging infrastructure, smart charging, and integration into the grid.

For more information about SEEDZ click here.

2. CalCEF - California Clean Energy Fund in San Francisco, CA) - a non-profit organization.


3. Primus Power - Provides low-cost, grid-scale electrical energy storage solutions with a safe, scalable, distributed flow battery system that economically serves multiple storage applications. With patented innovations in chemistry, cell design and system engineering, the company’s products offer exceptional power density and portability at industry-low costs.


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