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Interview With Energy Storage Company CODA Energy

Based in Monrovia, California, CODA Energy makes commercial and industrial energy storage solutions. CEO Paul Detering generously answered some questions for this interview with CleanTechnica.


1. Why did you select lithium-iron phosphate (rather than lithium-ion) batteries?

The lithium-ion iron phosphate (LiFePO4) rechargeable battery cells in the CODA Core energy storage system have robust thermal and chemical stability, long cycle life, and high round-trip efficiency. In the process of selecting cells for our products, CODA Energy evaluated over 100 candidate cell types and chemistries from leading manufacturers with a focus on product safety, cycle life, reliability, and operating efficiency. The lithium iron phosphate chemistry and cell configuration we’ve selected offer an excellent combination of these features in a package that also delivers the right balance of power and energy to meet our customers’ needs.

2. Your batteries are arranged in modular 10kWh stages…. How many can you stack together?

Our 10kWh stages currently stack into our commercially available, UL Listed 40kWh (4 stages) and 50kWh (5 stages) CODA Core™ Towers for small-scale customer needs. The 40kWh and 50kWh sizes provide the optimal energy and power for small businesses, while meeting the requirements of the California Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP), from which the majority of our customers receive financing.  Additionally our small-scale Towers are sized to ensure seismic stability and fit within building code specifications for high voltage equipment in a commercial facility. CODA Energy has also delivered larger scale multi-Tower systems using our 40kWh or 50kWh Towers in a side-by-side configuration.

3. Once you get to 10 MW of storage, you can also join container-level storage systems. How many containers can you link and how many more MW of storage can you create beyond 10?

One of the strengths of distributed energy storage is that it can be infinitely scaled and located at or near the customer’s load, or points of highest congestion on the grid, where it is needed most. We design our large-scale systems to meet specific customer requirements and applications. Therefore the physical system size will vary in square footage and number of containers required, since different applications require different amounts of power and energy – peak shaving, EV charging, renewable energy integration, micro-grids and ancillary services. We have two large-scale storage systems in partnership with the South Coast AQMD that total 1MW/1MWh in containerized and stand-alone systems. We have also proposed a 16MW and 64MWh system of networked containers using our core building block technology. Our proprietary Multi-Tower Power Controller (MTPC) software creates a network across Towers and containers to deliver specific and required end-user benefits.

4.  When you stack modules to get 10 MW of storage, what do you use to manage them for efficiency, safety, and performance?

CODA Energy’s Tower products are first-party certified by Underwriters Laboratories for safety, reliability, and performance. These towers are the foundation of our larger scale systems. All of CODA energy storage systems use our proprietary application algorithms that maximize the efficiency of battery usage depending on the load and specific application requirements. Our battery and thermal management systems balance the state of charge across all the battery cells within each Tower to ensure maximum safety and performance, and the Multi-Tower Power Controller (MTPC) manages the cross-Tower performance.

CODA Energy also provides turnkey containerized systems. Each containerized system includes a site energy controller (SEC), full environmental control, including HVAC, and any ancillary equipment necessary for turnkey operation at the customer site. Containerized system options also include Power Commanded and Power Quality Management modes along with ramp control for renewable generation profile smoothing. All CODA Energy system installations are designed to be compliant with local regulations, including optional Fire Alarm System and emergency illumination for operation during grid outages. Providing extra assurance, the systems are also remotely managed by CODA Energy and locally managed through a secure network using MODBUS over TCP/IP protocol.

5. Who are some of your current customers?

CODA Energy has nearly 3MWh of energy storage installations with manufacturing, retail, and public sector customers. Noteworthy customers include the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the Sunset Marquis Hotel in Hollywood, the City of Benicia, and various assets belonging to our parent company Fortress Investment Group.

6. Where would you like to expand, in terms of acquiring new customers?

While CODA Energy has systems in the ground in six states, our primary focus continues to be commercial and industrial customers in California, due to the high cost of electricity and availability of state funding and incentives for businesses. Moving forward, we plan to expand our customer base to the east coast, focusing on New York where commercial demand charges are high, incentive programs exist, and there is a growing need for critical backup power systems. CODA is also exploring international markets where power integrity is an issue.

7.  How much growth do you foresee for energy storage in general, or for your particular business?

It’s a really exciting time for the energy storage sector, as energy storage has become a viable and realistic option for businesses. Just last month, Greentech Media projected that the energy storage market will grow 250% in 2015. There has been a steady flow of recent reports that project explosive growth for both utility-scale projects and behind-the-meter applications like the ones CODA Energy is focused on. While demand charge reduction has been the main driver of the behind-the-meter market, the ability of distributed storage to provide different grid services for utilities and system operators will usher in additional growth in the coming years. Utilities are becoming more progressive as they consider how to utilize energy storage and renewable generation to meet new state energy mandates and growing customer demand without heavy investment in utility infrastructure.

For CODA Energy, 2015 is all about scaling and securing new customers. We have focused the past two years on leveraging our team’s decade of advanced battery expertise to engineer our core energy storage product. Now that we have a truly unparalleled offering and foundation from which to scale, we plan to invest our efforts into diversifying and growing our customer base. Having companies like Tesla entering the energy storage space further validates the viability of the market, and we believe there is plenty of room for competitors. We also believe that competition serves to spur innovation. This is just the beginning; the opportunities are endless as more and more companies are waking up to understand the business and operational benefits of energy storage. With financing no longer being a huge obstacle for energy storage, 2015 will be a big year for us, and the industry as a whole.

8.  Are you developing any new products currently, and when might they be launched if you are?

CODA Energy has launched several pilot projects across multiple applications in six states. Aside from offering our existing peak shaving/demand management product, the CODA Core, we are piloting a renewable micro-grid with Uninterrupted Power Source (UPS) capabilities at a military base, a frequency trading system in the PJM market region, a solar powered electric vehicle charging system, and a frequency trading system in the CAISO market. The company is currently in the process of designing its next generation commercial & industrial energy storage Tower that will launch later this year.

Image Credit: CODA Energy

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