Energy Storage on Parade: Six standout innovations at ESACON21

“Energy storage contributes to resiliency via the jobs it does. Fluence’s dedicated team uncovers & innovates battery use cases – from boosters for transmission to back-up power for behind-the-meter applications, to replacing coal plants.” – Fluence CPO Rebecca Boll at #ESACon21 via Fluence’s Twitter account.

A host of energy storage players convened in Phoenix for the Energy Storage Association’s recent annual meeting December 3 and 4, discussing the latest technologies, strategic moves, and market outlooks to a crowd of some 1,200 attendees.

The ESACON21 show — the final standalone show for ESA after its merger with the American Clean Power Association is made official — only attracted half the participants that were involved in the association’s August virtual event, in part because more non-U.S. companies participated in that event. But the show atmosphere was charged and upbeat, led by the 50 exhibitors who braved the Covid conditions.

ESACON21 Expo Highlights

Among the technologies and strategies on display at the show, these six stood out:

Altairnano | Altairnano marketed its nanoscale technology-based lithium titanate oxide (LTO) batteries at the show. LTO has key advantages over other lithium ion battery chemistries, including longer life, and full and rapid discharge options, which positions the battery for grid power support use, rather than basic energy provision.

As such, the battery could be used in hybrid combination with Lithium ion batteries for configurations like Community Solar Gardens, where grid services provide a part of the business plan revenue stack, said Greg Weyl, the Director of ESS Business Development for the Reno-based company.

“We’re now bidding on a project in the Yukon, where our 16,000-cycle battery can last 25 years under conditions in which other battery chemistries would fail at -40 C,“ said Weyl. The ALTI-ESS features a 4C rating, the highest charge rate of any lithium-ion energy storage device, he points out. The product is scalable with 1 MW/250 kWh modular configurations.

EVLO | EVLO Energy Storage presented its first PV+storage installation in Canada, at the 8 MW Gabrielle-Bodis project, in La Prairie, south of Montreal. The company uses its 1 MWh ELVO 1000, with LFP battery chemistry, in C&I and utility projects in Arctic and tropical locations alike.

“We’re trying different types of solar mounting technologies at the pilot, including trackers and bifacial panels,” said Bruno Gosselin, the Senior Strategic Advisor for the company in Varennes, Quebec. A year ago, Hydro-Québec launched EVLO to design, sell and operate energy storage systems.

Fluence | Fluence showed off its new IQ Bidding app at the show, which it has tailored to the CAISO network, among other ISOs. The Fluence IQ Bidding Application captures revenue across energy and ancillary services with AI-powered bidding software, creating market-compliant bid files that are sent to a scheduling coordinator or customer’s trading desk.

Community Choice Aggregator East Bay Community Energy (EBCE) in November opted for the software-as-a-service Fluence IQ app to manage its 10 MW/40 MWh Henrietta battery energy storage system in Lemoore, Calif.

“Fluence’s optimization platform delivered superior results, a clean user interface and strategic risk management settings, while allowing us to meet our obligations without increasing the workload for EBCE personnel,” said Chris Eshleman, EBCE’s Senior Manager of Power Resources, in a statement.

Nuvation | Nuvation Energy called for more energy storage arbitration market activity, offering its containerized fourth-generation modular battery storage system at the show. While the system is primarily oriented to large-scale utility projects, it is also applicable in C&I projects, and is battery chemistry agnostic, according to Greg James, the Senior Director of Sales and Business Development for the company, in Sunnyvale, Calif. Among recent C&I projects is an 800 kW/700kWh microgrid in Lac‑Mégantic, Quebec, a part of the town’s 2020–2025 strategic plan.

In early December EVLO announced its selection of Nuvation’s battery management systems for EVLO’s energy storage product line. The EVLO energy storage systems will be used for applications such as utility grid support and demand charge management.

SPI Energy | SPI Energy demonstrated its Solar Juice residential storage system at the show, prior to its early 2022 market launch, according to Mark Stahl, the VP of Sales at SPI subsidiary Solar4America, in Livermore, Calif. His company has installed both Enphase and Tesla wall units for residential and C&I projects.

Roseville, Calif. -based SPI Energy, which provides solar, storage and electric vehicle solutions, took over the Sunergy PV solar plant in Sacramento, in early December, where it will ramp up to solar module production capacity of 1.1 GW in second half 2022, along with storage production.

Sungrow | Sungrow Power Supply touted its modular liquid-cooled ST2236UX, running an lithium iron phosphate battery (LFP) that can operate for up to 8 hours within a temperature range of -30 C to +50 C. The storage system is especially gaining traction in floating solar projects (See SB Nov. 19, 2021).

“The renewables-plus-storage system is poised to be more economical. It will prove even more when these systems begin undercutting conventional fossil-fueled generation with plummeting prices in some regions,” said keynote speaker Mizhi Zhang, Sungrow’s Managing Director of ESS Business in the Americas. Sungrow had over 182 GW of inverters installed worldwide as of June 2021.

ESA 2021 Annual Awards

Among other show activities, ESA announced the recipients of its annual awards, which recognize companies and individuals for their outstanding commitments to excellence in innovation, diversity and inclusion, and forward-thinking leadership.

The 2021 ESA Annual Award Winners are:

*The Brad Roberts Outstanding Industry Achievement by a Member Organization Award: Ameresco and Energy Safety Response Group (ESRG);

*The Phil Symons Energy Storage Award: Mike Berlinski, Director Emerging Technology, Customized Energy Solutions; and Andrew Kaplan, Partner, Pierce Atwood LLP;

*The Diversity & Inclusion Award: Imran Noorani, Chief Strategy Officer, Peak Power; and

*The Breakout Woman of the Year Award: Sharon Bonesteel AIA, CBO, CP, SRP ESS Codes and Safety Leader at Salt River Project; Christina Iwaniw, R&TD Engineer at New York Power Authority (NYPA); and Allyson Sand, Market Lead Development at Plus Power.

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