Many observers feel that energy storage has the potential to be one of the ‘next big things.’ A number of companies are working hard at developing and deploying storage technologies, and raising money as well. Stem – a company that has created and implemented an on-site storage solution that switches between the grid and on-site batteries – recently completed a $15 million funding round. Aquion Energy, another storage company, announced a successful $55 million round for grid-scale battery applications in the first week of January. Meanwhile, Ambri – also focusing on grid scale storage, launched a $15 million funding round late last year. And these companies are by no means the only ones playing in that arena.
One interesting aspect of storage is that it can be potentially deployed at many different levels, depending on how much energy you need at a specific point in time and long you need it for. As a consequence, one will see storage companies building business plans aimed at various market niches and applications.
Power markets are volatile, and the increasing levels of intermittent renewables further reinforce that dynamic. Some storage companies are specifically striving to address the renewables challenge. So when I was introduced to Tom Leyden, the CEO of Solar Grid Storage LLC, I was under the impression they were going to deal with the intermittency of solar, and help integrate solar power into the grid. It turns out their business model employs a more subtle and less obvious approach. They essentially piggyback on solar installations, through provision of an inverter and battery package to provide an essential and highly valuable short-term balancing function to the grid.