Large flows of money into nascent energy storage projects is a sign of the boom the market should experience in the next few years, reports Forbes.
Green Charge Networks, an energy storage installer that specializes in lithium-ion batteries, this week announced that it has secured a $10 million fund from TIP Capital to finance projects. GCN’s business model, which is similar to one used widely in the solar panel market, allows businesses to forgo owning the energy storage equipment and pay for the storage as a service via a long-term lease, Forbes reports.
GCN expects the funding to pay for 5 MW of installations – more than triple the amount of installations it has carried out since its inception in New York two years ago. Data from GCN’s customers, which include 7-Eleven, shows an average of a 15 percent reduction in energy bills.
In October, energy storage startup Stem raised $5 million to fund its projects. In December, SolarCity announced plans to bundle its photovoltaic panels with Tesla batteries. Primus Power recently raised $20 million in venture capital aimed at bringing its flow battery to market, according to Forbes.
Storage installers tend to pitch their products and services to businesses wishing to avoid so-called “demand charges.” Such fees are collected by utilities to ensure they are able to supply energy when the business needs it, especially during periods of peak demand. Due to the fluctuations inherent in many businesses’ electricity needs, such charges can account for 50 percent of a monthly bill, reports Forbes.
At present, the US has about 24.6 GW (about 2.3 percent of total electric production capacity) of grid storage, 95 percent of which is pumped storage hydro, while Europe and Japan have notably higher fractions of grid storage, according to Energy Department figures released in December. According to the report, there are four challenges related to the widespread deployment of energy storage: cost competitive energy storage technologies (including manufacturing and grid integration), validated reliability and safety, equitable regulatory environment, and industry acceptance.