Finding the True Energy Ecosystem

As the lights from 4th of July fireworks fade to distant memory and as today more than 3.2 billion viewers tuned in to watch the grand finale 2014 FIFA World Cup, it’s worth considering what exactly we were celebrating in between the beers and BBQs. The 4th represents more than just the declaration of independence from the British. It’s also a celebration of the American spirit, a belief in independence and innovation.

Consider then the current political drumbeats of those who would take our nation back to war in the Middle East. Though the reasons are complex, underlying the debate is the fact that despite our recent natural gas discoveries, the United States is still dependent on foreign oil.

Our oil addiction must end as it began, by building a different energy ecosystem.  The chariot horses in ancient times became obsolete when the major oil companies, car companies and the federal government collaborated to build a network of roads and gas stations.

Our new ecosystem will require an even greater level of cooperation between a wider variety of players in the solar, storage, and electric vehicle (EV) space. We will require a network that can generate, store, and then rapidly dispense energy into vehicles.

We’re already starting to see the beginnings of this energy ecosystem. As recent research from Greentechmedia has shown, clean energy is quickly moving beyond traditional progressive strongholds and into mainstream America.

Within four years, eleven states will generate more than 2% of their energy from the sun. Energy storage will hit 270 megawatts, or the equivalent of storing the annual electricity use of 25,000 homes. Though electric vehicles (EVs) represent less than 1% of the cars on the road today, companies like NRG eVgo, ChargePoint, and Tesla are quickly changing that statistic.

These trends are most apparent at the local level in California where distributed energy and storage were just given added support through Senate Bill 861.

A small town north of Los Angeles, Lancaster, California was made famous as the first city to mandate home solar. Soon after, Lancaster realized that it needed energy storage to reduce demand spikes caused by solar as the sun sets.  In response, the city then installed energy storage and EV chargers.

Two community college campuses in the Bay Area, Merritt College and Laney College, also found a need for energy storage and EV chargers as part of their path to carbon neutrality. Finally, even big-name retailers like Walgreens are implementing energy storage in order to increase returns on their solar projects.

A truly independent energy system based on abundant clean energy sources is still some years away. But the dream is nearing reality in many places. With a little help from the government and a lot of collaboration in the private sector, we will create a truly sustainable nation.

Vic is Chief Executive Officer of Green Charge Networks, an intelligent energy storage company based in Silicon Valley.  Since 2009, Vic led the company through its US $12 million smart grid project with Con Edison of New York, the US Department of Energy and Fortune 500 companies on a ROI-driven energy storage GreenStationTM with software intelligence to empower commercial and industrial customers to save on their energy bills. With more than 15 years experience in software development and complex system implementation, Vic is passionate in applying software to improve power efficiency.

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