Of course Tesla’s announcements about its new energy storage technology have generated tremendous interest. Tesla has been on something of an explosive ride following the great success of the Model S.
What was a little lost in the press, is that there are other energy storage offerings emerging in the marketplace, and they also have appealing features. Sharp, for example, is providing energy storage to the commercial and industrial sector.
Carl Mansfield, General Manager and Co-Founder of Sharp’s Energy Systems and Services Group Sharp SmartStorage® Energy Storage Systems, generously answered some questions about Sharp’s energy storage solutions for CleanTechnica.
1. Who are some of your customers?
Sharp is currently targeting the commercial and industrial segment for behind-the-meter solutions in the US, specifically customers that are suffering from expensive peak demand charges. We find that the market need is most immediate in California, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Hawaii because those are the markets where peak demand charges are at their highest.
We are currently engaged with a number of building owners/operators, primarily in California, but we continue to explore possibilities in all geographic markets. For confidentiality reasons, we can’t name many of our customers, but we did recently announce an installation with Baker Electric in Escondido, California.
2. Who would the Sharp system most benefit?
We’ve found that the commercial and industrial market is currently the sweet spot for our product because building owners and operators are paying such high demand charges, often above $20/kW per month. Sharp’s SmartStorage® product has proven very effective at capping commercial and industrial customers’ peak demand usage, resulting in measurable savings for our customers.
Renewable energy sources such as solar PV are, by nature, unpredictable. Energy storage also adds value by supporting PV systems by ensuring that a consistent level of energy is available for consumption even when the sun isn’t shining.
3. Does it work with any kind or size of business?
In general, we don’t find there are specific property types that are always good or always bad candidates for our product; it really depends on the individual energy usage profile of the property in question, which is dictated by the site’s operations. However, there are some building types that usually work well and others that do not. For example, schools tend to be good candidates because their set daily cycle usually creates a narrow peak load that runs from early morning up to about lunch time.
More important than a property’s type is correctly sizing the installation for that property. The key for any product in this space is to have a flexible building block to allow sizing to be optimized.
We have a 30kW building block, which is our smallest installation size. We combine multiples of that building block up to about half a megawatt in size, which is about the largest that our product currently supports. Each of the 30 kW building blocks comes with either a 40 kWh or 80 kWh capacity.
4. Is it available for homes too or just for businesses?
Sharp does have residential products available in markets outside the US. Currently, however, we are not targeting the residential market in the US, but we are poised to support residential storage needs when it makes economic sense. We think the residential market is about two or three years away from being viable for most energy storage applications.
5. How much, potentially, can a business save by purchasing and using the system?
Peak demand charges are the fastest growing part of utility bills for commercial and industrial customers and can represent up to 50 percent of a customer’s monthly utility bill. The amount of savings will depend on the customer’s load profile. We present specific expected savings to a customer following review of that load profile.
6. How does the software predict peak electricity use and then avoid the peak demand charges?
Our system uses historical data to intelligently predict at what demand level we can hold an individual commercial property’s grid consumption based on what is happening in real-time and what has happened historically.
Our software algorithms for demand management have two key components. One handles the prediction while the second handles battery dispatch taking into account site energy usage in real-time.
7. How much does the system cost and what is the storage capacity?
The economics of storage are increasingly attractive. The SmartStorage® system in particular can provide added value streams and a good return on investment (ROI) with a payback period below four years in some cases. With available, no-money-down financing options, it is also possible for a customer to immediately realize positive cash flow from an installation.
The SmartStorage® solution is available configured with either 40kWh or 80kWh of capacity per 30kW system building block.
A key component of Sharp’s offering is our 10-Year Asset Management Service Agreement. This is available for all SmartStorage® installations and it includes operations and maintenance as well as our innovative 10-Year Demand Reduction Performance Guarantee.
8. Can the system be integrated with renewable energy like solar power?
The SmartStorage® energy storage system can be deployed with or without solar and can increase ROI on installed solar assets. It can firm demand reductions, improving overall solar performance. Likewise, the SmartStorage® system can perform better with integrated solar assets because solar can favorably narrow the load peak. A SmartStorage® system installation can also make solar installations economically viable where they otherwise would not be, in cases where there is limited space to deploy sufficient PV capacity to allow an economic switch to a PV-favorable utility rate schedule.
In addition, by integrating solar with our product, building owners and operators may also benefit from a combination of solar tax credits and incentives in addition to applicable storage incentives.
9. Can the system work in sync with an EV charger or chargers?
The SmartStorage® system can realize demand reductions when co-deployed with EV chargers. We have a number of sites in development now where our system is integrated with a charging station site to provide economic benefits to the site’s owner-operator.
Image Credit: Sharp
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