New Distributed Energy Storage System May Lower Energy Costs

A new distributed energy solution which is aimed at reducing energy costs for the commercial and industrial business.
Published: Mon 24 Mar 2014

A new energy storage solution has been created by Ice Energy, a leading provider of distributed thermal energy storage and smart grid solutions.

An energy storage and energy efficiency solution

The solution, called Ice Bear, has been configured to provide both thermal energy storage and demand response. Its smart grid platform integrates distributed energy storage technology with an advanced software infrastructure and intelligent two-way control to provide utilities with a fully dispatchable grid asset that can be rapidly deployed at any scale.

The firm has installed two Ice Bears units for Connecticut’s United Illuminating Company (UI) as a pilot project through the Energize Connecticut initiative to demonstrate the potential of the Ice Bear to reduce peak electric demand. The units were installed at two commercial businesses located in Orange, Connecticut.

At each site, some of the air conditioning load is permanently shifted from peak to off peak using the thermal energy storage and some of it is subject to curtailment in an emergency by applying demand response.

The aim is to shift and reduce peak electric energy demand thereby lowering energy costs for the commercial and industrial business owner.

The units were purchased by Connecticut’s United Illuminating Company with funds as part of the Energize Connecticut initiative but will be owned by the end customer. This deployment is one of three pilots underway in New England.

Mike Hopkins, Ice Energy’s EVP of corporate development and legal, says that there has been a marked increase in demand for energy efficiency technologies in the US, especially in California and the northeast region.

Distributed energy storage market grows

The rapid introduction of intermittent, renewable generating sources (such as solar PV) over the last several years has presented utilities, grid operators, and project developers with a number of new challenges and opportunities. Many of these can be addressed through the deployment of distributed energy storage.

The commercial buildings market is currently the largest source of revenue for stationary energy storage companies. This is due primarily to a robust uninterruptible power supply (UPS) industry, which needs an energy storage component. In addition to this, the commercial sector is adopting energy storage solutions in response to technological advances in the storage sector and extreme weather events that have knocked out power to large areas, resulting in million- or billion-dollar losses. This segment alone is estimated to generate US$3.7 billion in global sales in 2013. [Read our article, Energy Storage Sector Targets Commercial Customers.]

In addition, there is a relatively healthy market for thermal energy systems, which use thermal mass (either ice or ceramic bricks) to store energy for later use in climate control in a building. That market is estimated by Navigant Research to be valued at US$89.6 million in 2013.