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Energy storage ramps up at Intersolar North America show

After a strong showing in the energy storage segment at its European counterpart in June, Intersolar North America is following suit with a number of companies and organisations launching new products at the show.

The International Battery and Energy Storage Alliance (IBESA), PV Tech Storage's media partner, is again hosting the IBESA Pavilion after a successful outing at the Europe event in Munich, where the association’s member companies were able to exhibit from ‘pods’ within the larger pavilion.

On a macro level, Rebecca Feuerlicht, a project manager on distributed generation at the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) is presenting an outline on the importance of energy storage in the state’s future. The California Public Utilities Commission issued a mandate in October last year that investor-owned utilities need to deploy 1.325GW of energy storage by 2020. The utilities, Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric must set procurement goals this year, dividing up the full 1.325GW between them.

Earlier this year, the commission also exempted storage systems from grid interconnection application fees, supplemental review fees and standby charges, when paired with net-metered generation. In addition, state governor Jerry Brown has extended funding for the California Self-Generation Incentive Plan (SGIP), due to run out in 2015, until 2019. The extension is worth US$83 million per year.

California's governor Jerry Brown, who adressed Intersolar North America, extended funding for the Self-Generation Incentive Plan until 2019. Image: Solar Promotion International.
While commending the state’s forward-thinking on renewable energy, distributed generation and therefore also storage, the CCSE has pointed out, however that while the SGIP has received over 55MW of applications since 2011, to date only around 3MW of this figure was installed by the start of this year.

Feuerlicht believes, however, that the state can achieve a similar success in deploying storage to its recent history of installing solar capacity. In solar, the California Solar Initiative has led to the installation of 1,500MW since 2007, increasing the state's total capacity of solar installed by sevenfold.

According to Feuerlicht: “Energy storage is the mechanism needed to allow California to fully maximize the benefits of renewable generation, reduce fossil fuel use and GHG emissions and eliminate inefficient ramping up and down of existing power plants.”

Varta will present its home energy storage system, Engion Home at the show. Image: Varta.
Elsewhere, in products, German company Varta will present Engion Home, a lithium-ion battery home solar storage system. Like similar products on the market, the initial aim of the system’s storage is to provide back-up in the event of a power outage. The modular system can be configured in sizes ranging from 2.8kWh to 13.8kWh. The batteries store PV generated electricity and the system allows 20% to 70% of generated energy to be self-consumed.

Ideal Power, which won an award at Intersolar Europe for its 30kW Hybrid PV Storage Converter, is also among the exhibitors in San Francisco. The 3-port converter can incorporate multiple power sources into microgrids. Ideal Power claims it can improve grid resiliency and dependency on diesel as a back-up source, as well as enabling EV charging and several other functions. The device uses patented switching architecture that integrates solar PV inverter functions through one of its two DC ports, with bi-directional battery converter functions on a second DC port. The DC ports are software-controllable meaning they can be used for diverse applications including EV charging and switching to and from diesel back-up. Meanwhile, grid-tied and micro-grid applications are supported by an AC port.

Ideal Power also produced an estimate that the storage converter could reduce the size and weight of microgrid power electronics, used to integrate storage and PV generated power, by as much as 90%.

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