A hot new area for the development of energy efficiency storage technology is refrigeration. Last month, this blog covered the recent success of Mintz Levin client Axiom Exergy. Axiom’s focus on lowering the costs of refrigeration through their Refrigeration Battery has caught the attention of major investors such as Shell Investors, and has led to deals with major chains, including Wal-Mart and Whole Foods. The battery, which is described in more detail in the June 12th post, generates and stores excess refrigeration by freezing tanks of salt water during off-peak hours and releasing the refrigeration during peak hours to avoid high peak energy costs. The Refrigeration Battery is especially useful for supermarkets, which dedicate nearly 60% of their energy consumption towards refrigeration, and can help reduce peak energy consumption by up to 40%.

Of course, energy efficiency storage technology holds promise for more than just supermarkets. Ice Energy’s Ice Bear battery creates and stores ice during off-peak hours. It can then use that stored Continue Reading Battery Companies Drive Innovation in Energy Efficiency Storage Technology

All kinds of companies are using batteries to cut expenses and reduce demand for new power plants. Over the past few years, there has been a major upward tick in the number of U.S. companies that have started installing batteries to store electricity for later use.

Last year, Cargill Inc. reported that it had installed two megawatt-hours of batteries to provide extra power at certain times of the day at its plant in Fresno, California. The batteries are expected to help save about $100,000 a year on power expenses. More recently, J.C. Penney Co. Inc. announced that it had installed batteries in six of its Southern California stores and has plans to install batteries at three additional stores this year as well as 14 more next year. The batteries provide about 35 kilowatts of power for roughly two hours, which translate into $6,000 a year on savings on its power bills. To learn more about the upward trend in battery installations and use, read on!

Continue Reading Companies Tap Into Battery Power to Cut Energy Bills

In 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) created its Advanced Research Projects-Energy (ARPA-E) division to fund energy storage projects conducted by scientists at Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and the Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge labs. The DOE now believes that some of the 75 battery system projects it is currently funding have the ability to transform the renewable energy storage industry in as little as 5-10 years. To learn more about these breakthrough technologies, read on!

Continue Reading “Holy Grail” of Renewable Energy Storage is Fast-Approaching

Tom Burton, Chair of Mintz Levin’s Energy Technology Practice, has published a weekly installment providing insight into the challenges and possible solutions that, if implemented, promise a bright future as clean energy moves America forward. In this series, Tom included one challenge per week and the potential solution(s). This is the sixth and final installment of the series. Click to read Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V.

The Problem: Renewables Intermittent Power Generation 

Renewable energy sources are intermittent in nature, depending on when the sun shines and the wind blows. Because of this, suppliers face “ramp up” and “ramp down” issues.

  • Ramping up: Renewable supply is typically lowest during the evening, while at this time demand spikes as people return home from work. The California Independent System Operator (ISO) developed a “duck curve” to describe how massive amounts of customer-sited PV systems could cause problems to the state’s supply-demand balance on its electricity grid. The ISO worries that the “neck” of the duck curve, situated where consumers come home and turn their electricity on as the sun sets, could overwhelm the state’s available generating capacity.
  • Ramping down: Generation is highest in the middle of the day as demand troughs. This creates an overgeneration risk where grid operators often have to ask renewable suppliers to reduce production so as not to overwhelm transmission lines. In Vermont, Green Mountain Power has, on several occasions, had to cut back the power it sends to the grid because the operator told them it was overloading capacity. Compounding the issue is that it is more difficult to synchronize wind’s fluctuating power flow with a system built for the steadier electric stream of fossil fuel plants. This comes with financial consequences – for example, cutbacks cost the Vermont Electric Cooperative $1.5 million in 2013.

A widespread, cost effective method is necessary to smooth out the duck curve and deliver clean power at all hours of the day.

Continue Reading Policy and Legal Implications of Implementing Renewable Energy at Scale: Renewables Intermittent Power Generation (Part 6 of 6)

On Wednesday, September 23, the Northeast Electrochemical Energy Storage Cluster and North Shore InnoVentures co-hosted the 2015 Clean Energy Storage Finance Forum at the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC). The event kicked off with storage company pitches moderated by Tom Kinneman, Vice President and COO of North Shore InnoVentures. Afterward, Tibor Toth, MassCEC’s Managing Director of Investments, moderated a panel that featured Judith Judson, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, Betty Watson, SolarCity’s Deputy Director of Policy and Electricity markets, and Bill Bullock, Director of Business Development at NRG. The panel was an exclusive opportunity for major energy stakeholders to discuss the future of storage. Read below for some key takeaways!

Continue Reading 2015 Cleantech Energy Storage Finance Forum: The Immediate and Long Term Prospects for Storage Technology

As Congress comes back into session next week, tax provisions are at the top of the agenda from now through the end of the year. While Republicans are looking to make some tax extenders permanent and eliminate others, Democrats are negotiating hard to make renewable energy credits permanent or at least secure long sunsets. Renewable credits, which include the Production Tax Credit (PTC), could also see forward movement in crude oil export ban negotiations.

The Department of Energy continues to invest in clean tech with their latest interest in fuel cell and hydrogen technologies. On October 8, the DOE announced it was investing $20 million in 10 projects to advance innovation in this area. The same day, the agency released a report detailing how the industry, which registered $2.2 billion in sales last year, is rapidly growing. For more on these developments and the latest from D.C., read this week’s ML Strategies Update!

In the final full week before the July 4 recess, energy policy is taking center stage in both the legislative and executive branches. The Senate continues to piece together a broad bipartisan energy package, while the House takes on the EPA’s funding, the Clean Power Plan, and listens to officials on advanced battery storage. At the White House, the Obama administration continues efforts to spur global climate action. Read more in this week’s update from ML Strategies

In an ambitious and unprecedented move, Hawaii is aiming to increase its current renewable energy output of 21% to a 100% quota by 2045. The state, which carries some of the U.S.’s highest electricity costs, is riding the momentum of decreasing renewable energy prices. Legislators believe Hawaii’s abundant sunshine, wind, ocean and tidal waves, and geothermal activity make it an ideal candidate for quitting fossil fuels. The bill’s sponsor, Senator Mike Gabbard (D – West Oahu), said rather than continuing to spend up to $5 billion annually on fossil fuels, “our islands are blessed with abundant, renewable energy…we should be using these resources for the benefit of our people.”

Continue Reading Hawaii Bill Mandates 100% Renewable Energy by 2045, but Obstacles Remain

On March 3rd, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced $35 million in funding to promote innovation in fuel cell and hydrogen technologies. The funding announcement will facilitate early adoption of a wide variety of hydrogen fuel cell applications – including light duty fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) – by supporting research and development. Many automakers are showing interest in putting FCEVs on the road, potentially as soon as 2017. As these vehicles become increasingly commercially available, the Energy Department will be focusing on increasing technical advancements of critical hydrogen infrastructure including production, delivery, and storage.  In addition, the Department is seeking to continue demonstrating the value of early market deployments such as plug-in fuel cell vehicles. The Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), available here, will include two general areas of interest each with several subtopics:

Continue Reading Energy Department Announces $35 Million to Advance Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technologies

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is seeking applications under a $62 million Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOA) to support R&D in the energy storage area for vehicles using electric drive components, including hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs). Specifically, the R&D will focus on high-power batteries, high-energy batteries, and ultracapacitors for automobile applications. Continue Reading Department of Energy Seeks to Award $62 Million to Support R&D for Advanced Batteries