Energy storage US: Market still growing, but not forever

energy storage Ice Bear
Ice Bear has announced to use solar PV technology to power its water-freezing units

The US energy storage sector is likely to see consolidation just as the market experienced with solar PV, according to analysts and industry stakeholders.

But in the meantime, the market is filling up with many different technologies as witnessed at a North American trade event held earlier this month in California.

Ice Energy, maker of the Ice Bear solution, announced plans to combine ice with solar.

Mike Hopkins, CEO of Ice Energy, said the California-based company plans to use excess PV energy to create ice.

Mr Hopkins said: “Energy storage using ice is the greenest, most cost-effective method to integrate renewables into the grid and is truly worthy of solar.”

He said both solutions are low-cost, have proven reliability, system longevity and durability and sustainable with both recyclable and with no hazardous waste byproducts.

Ice and solar PV

The Ice Bear used in the Solar + Ice bundle is a behind-the-meter system that attaches to one or more standard 5-20 ton commercial AC units.

The Ice Bear freezes water when demand for power is low. Then when the utility desires the capacity, stored ice is dispatched to provide cooling instead of power-intensive AC compressors, the company explained in a statement.

Ice Energy has a client base in California but has plans to expand beyond the state to “anywhere the sun shines abundantly and the AC needs to be used regularly”, said Hopkins.

The company’s Solar + Ice bundle is available to utilities through long-term power purchase agreements that guarantee performance.

Energy storage tie-ups

Other announcements at the show included the energy storage arm of US-based Dynapower confirming a tie-up to supply inverters for Australia’s Ecoult 1MW battery system.

This follows news from Dynapower in July 2015 that it has begun selling inverters for Tesla’s new commercial PowerPack batteries.

Energy storage at Federal level

Despite the showcasing of new technology and deals, attendees of Energy Storage North America also considered the impact of a Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC) order 745 on storage, report trade media.

The US Supreme Court is considering whether FERC has jurisdiction over demand response resources in wholesale markets, or whether it must be regulated at the state level and considered a retail resource.

Experts consider that if demand response is primarily a retail resource, this will impact customers’ ability to create value from energy storage solutions and other DER systems, which could impact the growth of the sector.