Energy storage, as THE mechanism for unlocking the full potential of renewable energy, is expected to grow to a $6 billion global industry by 2020. The only thing standing in its way is getting the mass market to understand its potential. Storage companies are now becoming more customer orientated, by providing energy management analytics in addition to the batteries, as a way to engage more end users with the technology.
The topic of customer engagement was discussed at Moixa Energy’s crowdfunding campaign event, which celebrated the launch of its £1.5 million pilot project to test the effectiveness of the MASLOW energy system in 250 homes in the UK. MASLOW not only stores spare solar power and reduces peak time costs, but also provides a customer dashboard in which consumers can access and monitor their energy data.
At the event, Pilgrim Beart, co-founder of Alert Me a (Global Cleantech 100 Company 2009, 2010, 2014 Alumnus) and CEO of 1248, a consultancy for Internet of Things (IOT) products, noted that companies still need to educate the market about the core benefits of energy storage. One solution is to target customers at the community level, since people of similar backgrounds and neighborhoods are more likely to collaborate to adopt new solutions.
Younicos (a 2014 Global Cleantech 100 company) is taking this community approach on Graciosa Island off the coast of Portugal. In partnership with Leclanché, they are providing a micro-grid solution to its 4,700 inhabitants. They will install a battery pack that will have 2.8MWh capacity combined with 5.5MW of renewable energy-based generation capacity, increasing renewable electricity production to 65 percent. This system will allow the island to be fully powered by wind and solar energy and reduce their dependence on fuel imports.
Tesla (a 2009 Global Cleantech 100 company) is reaching communities with their recent partnership with SolarCity’s Homebuilder Program. In this deployment strategy, SolarCity and Tesla are able to provide a comprehensive rooftop solar panel kit, Tesla Powerwall battery back, hybrid inverter, control system, and a warranty and service agreement. SolarCity has been able to reach 300 homes in 13 communities due to its partnership with Pardee Homes, one of America’s top homebuilders.
Energy storage will play a vital role in a cost-effective transition to low carbon, resilient energy systems, though we have yet to see which companies will ensure growth to the sector. Companies such as Stem (a 2014 Global Cleantech 100 company) and Aquion Energy (also a 2014 Global Cleantech 100 company) are gaining market traction as they build software to manage batteries from utility scale to behind-the-meter. As these markets start to develop, whether for homeowners, utilities or island grid systems, we look forward to the day of a massive shift in perception of how we should consume, store and manage energy.