EnSync shares insight on Hawaii solar + storage market

Sunset Lakeview project_Photo credit EnSync Energy Systems

The Hawaii solar +storage market is its own unique beast. Hawaiian Electric Company, the state’s energy utility, faces many modern grid challenges. It has the largest proportion of renewable and distributed energy out of any other utility in the country. In 2016, 26 percent of customer’s electricity demand came from renewable resources, which can present intermittency challenges for the utility to manage. Instability compounded by the high expense of the utilities’ largest energy supply – imported oil – is encouraging the state to look to modern solutions, such as energy storage and energy management systems to create the 21st-century utility.

EnSync Energy Systems knows this well, having today sealed its 20th contracted project in Hawaii. EnSync Energy’s impact on the Hawaiian electric infrastructure, with projects in operation or that will be in operation in the next 12 months, will account for more than $20 million from renewable energy electricity sales over the term of the various power purchasing agreements.

“The Hawaiian market has been foundational to our success as we introduced new products, services and business models over the last two years,” said Brad Hansen, CEO and president of EnSync Energy. “Installing new hybrid energy storage systems, developing and executing our power purchase agreement business model, demonstrating real-time aggregation of multiple DER installations and recently, shipping our first DER SuperModulesTM are all exciting markers of energy progress. We’re proud of our efforts in Hawaii and the 20 projects we closed there.”

Hawaii expands customer grid supply capacity (adding 20 MW)

These customer collaborations – including Spectrum (formerly Time Warner), University of the Nations, Easter Seals, and Villages of Kapolei – support key Hawaiian industries such as agriculture, food processing, telecommunications, hospitality, education, real estate and nonprofit.

EnSync Energy’s storage and generation integration expertise provides grid automation by enabling services across the meter and optimizing local businesses with behind-the-meter application controls. EnSync Energy developed, engineered, financed and installed differentiated DER technologies to deliver electricity-generating projects that meet Hawaii’s evolving energy demands, synchronize power sources and enhance grid stability via improved visibility and control. Through its partnerships with Hawaiian businesses, EnSync Energy sourced balance-of-systems goods and services with local suppliers and partners.

“Our goal is always to deliver the highest value, most reliable and cost-effective electricity, and we’ve been able to achieve this through our integrated DER system technologies – supporting our customers from concept through design, project finance and commissioning,” said Dan Nordloh, executive vice president at EnSync Energy. “EnSync Energy’s technologies are leading the way to providing benefit to all electricity stakeholders in Hawaii: for customers seeking to reduce their electricity spend and achieve resiliency, for the utility to leverage distributed energy resources to improve the grid and for the state’s 100 percent renewable energy plan objectives. Our success in Hawaii is demonstrative of what is possible in creating the electricity grid of the future.”

EnSync Energy’s business model and increasing impact in the state aligns with Hawaii’s current political objectives. Hawaiian Electric has set renewable targets of 48 percent by 2020 and 100 percent by 2040 – five years ahead of the state’s mandated goal. Along with acquiring nearly 400 megawatts of renewable generating capacity, the utility’s latest Power Supply Improvement Plan includes adding energy storage and other grid technologies to aid resiliency.

“EnSync Energy’s comprehensive solutions afforded us offerings that were customized to our needs and enabled us to avoid complex and cumbersome processes that we would have experienced with single-product solar developers or battery providers,” said Charlie Moore, Manager of Century West AOAO in Honolulu. “EnSync Energy has enabled us to reduce operational expenses, which ultimately positions us to bring down costs for our residents.”


— Solar Builder magazine

Meet the Energy Storage Innovation and Champion award winners


Energy Storage North America (ESNA), the largest gathering of policy, technology and market leaders in energy storage, today announced the winners of this year’s ESNA Innovation and Champion Awards.

The ESNA Innovation Awards were presented to three energy storage projects that demonstrated excellence and impact in two categories: Centralized Storage and Distributed Storage. Winners were recognized for their impact on the energy storage ecosystem, services supplied to customers and the grid, unique technology solutions, financing or partnerships.

ESNA Innovation Award Winners

Centralized Storage
• SDG&E Expedited Energy Storage Project
• Southern California Edison Hybrid Enhanced Gas Turbine (EGT)

Distributed Storage
• Marcus Garvey Village Solar+Storage+Fuel Cell Microgrid
The ESNA Champion Awards recognize individuals from the utility and policy sectors who have demonstrated significant leadership in advancing the role of energy storage to achieve a cleaner, more reliable and more resilient energy grid.

ESNA Champion Award Winners

Utility Champion
• Ron Nichols, President of Southern California Edison (SCE)

Policy Champion
• New York Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (D-88)

“I’m honored to receive Energy Storage North America’s Champion Award,” said Ron Nichols, Southern California Edison President. “The need to replace fossil fuels with alternative sources of energy for a cleaner energy future is of paramount importance to Southern California Edison, and to me. Through the visionary work of so many dedicated energy professionals at Southern California Edison and throughout the industry, we are now on the cusp of this change; and I’m extremely proud to be part of it.”

“It is my honor to accept the Policy Champion award,” said Amy Paulin, New York State Assemblywoman. “I am truly humbled to be recognized by such a distinguished group of policy, technology and market leaders. When I first became the Chair of the New York State Assembly Energy Committee in 2013, I had no prior experience with energy policy. Meeting with experts, engaging with other policymakers and attending industry events has helped to bring me to the forefront of this industry. This conference is an invaluable resource for policymakers and others in the field to connect and to keep up to date on the most recent storage technology and projects.”

“The winners of this year’s ESNA Awards have each played an integral role in advancing the energy storage ecosystem through impactful programs, projects, technologies or policies,” said Janice Lin, Energy Storage North America Conference Chair. “Their work is paving the way for the global transition to a cleaner and more resilient grid. By opening new markets and solving real-world problems for customers and the grid, these projects and industry leaders continue to propel our industry toward unprecedented innovation and growth.”

The awards were presented at the 5th annual Energy Storage North America Conference and Expo, held at the San Diego Convention Center. This year’s winners will be inducted into the ESNA Awards Hall of Fame, online here.

— Solar Builder magazine

How to find the perfect solar + storage projects (start by looking at the rates)

solor+storageAt the heart of a solar + storage system is a battery, but that heart can’t beat without its brain — the software layer telling it how to operate. For your customers, regardless of battery manufacturer, the software brain is driven by three possible value streams.

  • Peak demand shaving. This is a commercial project value.
  • Time of use (TOU). Discharging on-peak and recharging off-peak.
  • Self-consumption. Pairing storage with solar and setting it to not export to the grid.

Deciding which value stream to choose might be easy, but determining just how much value is in that stream is complex. During a presentation led by Energy Toolbase, a software platform for modeling and analyzing the economics of solar and energy storage projects, Adam Gerza, Energy Toolbase COO, demonstrated how to pull accurate rate schedule data and load profiles of potential projects to accurately model system value. The new storage component in its software offers the same ability as its PV-only modeling and is built with an algorithm to solve for “perfect math,” based on all of the assumptions of a project — load profile, rate schedule, system characteristics and set points for the control strategy.

“It’s a math problem; there’s a best answer,” Gerza said. “So, how much is your storage project saving in dollar terms? We’re quantifying savings and trying to optimize them.”
Some examples of how crucial this value modeling is:

Hawaii solar-only

The net metering 2.0 tariffs in Hawaii are extreme but demonstrate where self-supply is a valuable option because if you export solar to the grid you get zero return for that production.

So, take two neighbors with identical load profiles (1,000 kWh a month; 12,000 kWh a year), with the only difference being time of use. A 6-kW DC rated PV system would produce a 79 percent offset for both homes. One home is peaking midday, between 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. The other home peaks in the evening. Overlaying time of use profiles reveals the midday home is only exporting about 29 percent of its energy to the grid, whereas the night owl is exporting 61 percent.

“What did that just do to the value of solar? During the day it is 19.5 cents; at night, the value collapses to 10 cents,” Gerza notes.

Hawaii PV + storage

Say you have a house (10 kW DC system, producing 15,000 kWh, 87 percent offset) exporting 50 percent of its PV production to the grid, where, again, you get nothing in return for it. After specifying a 14-kWh, 7-kW, two-hour battery, that export number goes down to 24 percent.

“There’s still a lot exporting from this,” Gerza says. “This is a function of running out of capacity. So, think about what’s happening. The system stored and prevented exports but then ran out of space. So, trial and error. If we want to get to 100 percent, we have to size up.”

Rate change scare

California has some great solar + storage project profiles right now, and the state seems to want to incentivize their deployment. The just-passed SB 700 would create a 10-year rebate program designed to grow the California local storage market and make storage more affordable for consumers. The rebates would step down as more storage systems are installed and economies of scale are achieved, thereby driving down the installed cost of the systems.

But as the earlier examples showed, rate structures are the true indicator of solar + storage value right now, and there are potential changes coming to rate structures in California that could really undercut that value.

Consider Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E)’s A6 rate schedule. Right now, the summer time of use rate has a 37 cent differential between on and off peak, which makes a big case for solar + storage.

“But rates are changing, and if that differential collapses, so does the savings opportunity,” Gerza says. “When you dive into the new model, it will lead to more questions than answers. It is 37 cents today, but what about two years from now?”

The biggest proposed change is PG&E moving that summer on-peak window to much later in the evening — from noon to 6 p.m. (current) to 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. That’s a major shift. Additionally, PG&E proposes a radical flattening of TOU differentials. That 37 cent difference is looking to collapse to less than 10 cents.

Lastly, the six month TOU seasons of summer and winter would just collapse into a 12-month, one-year period.

“While a bunch of big changes are being proposed at once, having interval meter data and being able to accurately quantify the savings for your customers when a lot of these things are concurrently happening is important,” Gerza says.

One Last Example

Let’s compare one building’s load profile under PG&E’s current and proposed A6 rates. This building uses about 455,000 kWh annually and has a 200-kW DC rated system that has a 66 percent offset. Under current rates, the average blended savings is 30.5 cents per kWh. Under the proposed rates, that drops to 20 cents per kWh.

We say one last time: The examples here were extreme, but those extremes help convey the importance of using granular data to identify system economics and also to illustrate just how far we may still be from solar + storage on a wider scale. But at least we can figure out when we are there.

“These examples illustrate that accurately estimating the avoided cost of solar + storage projects can get complex,” Gerza says. “It’s important that salespeople are ethical and realistic in the savings analysis they present to customers.”

Chris Crowell is managing editor of Solar Builder.

— Solar Builder magazine

Max Bögl Wind AG promotes water battery as a natural large-scale storage facility

Max Bögl Wind AG will present its products with a globally unique natural storage technology at this year’s Energy Storage North America (ESNA) fair in San Diego. From August 8 to 10, the company will present its water battery at booth 629.


With the water battery, Max Bögl Wind AG has developed a completely new large-scale storage facility. The production of power from renewable energies, such as a solar farm, will be combined with a modern pumped-storage power plant. The water battery can store surplus power from the grid and the energy can be reused as required. It acts as a short-term storage facility and contributes to maintaining stability of the grid, as well as guaranteeing continuous, uninterrupted supply. The pumped-storage power plant is available in three performance classes (16, 24 or 32 MW) and can switch between production and storage within 30 seconds.

The first project is currently being developed in Germany near Stuttgart. It consists of a wind farm with four wind turbines and a pumped-storage power plant with an installed capacity of 16 MW. The new storage concept uses the tower base of the wind turbines as water storage facilities with a storage capacity of 70 MWh. A penstock connect them with a hydroelectric power station and the corresponding lower reservoir 200 meters below in the valley.

— Solar Builder magazine

SMA leads discussion on utility-scale solar plus storage projects

SMA America recently hosted an exclusive forum to discuss utility-scale storage & PV solutions. The event, which took place in San Francisco during Intersolar, drew a great crowd, and SMA executives talked with customers about the current utility market, opportunities for storage and SMA’s large-scale storage solution. Guests from Siemens Energy Management also presented at the event.

utility-scale storage

And this is just the start of SMA’s road trip. Starting this month, the company is hosting a nationwide road show to showcase its Sunny Tripower CORE1 — a free-standing PV inverter for commercial installations. It is designed to provide up to 60 percent faster installation for commercial PV systems – a revolutionary development for commercial rooftop, carport and ground-mount PV projects. The tour will include 17 stops throughout the U.S. and will teach installers how to install, wire and commission the CORE1.

“The current solar market is highly competitive, and industry professionals are looking for solutions that they can install quickly and efficiently – and more importantly, that they can count on to operate reliably, without extra maintenance or failure risk,” said Nick Morbach, executive vice president of SMA’s Residential & Commercial business unit. “Integrators can see firsthand the simple installation, reduced components and reliable performance of the CORE1 at one of the road show stops.”

The tour will make stops in the following cities:

July 25: Secaucus, N.J., at Allied Building Products
July 26: Hauppage, N.Y., at WESCO
July 27: Baltimore, Md., at BayWa r.e.
July 28: Monroe, N.J. at Cooper Electric/Sonepar
August 1: Charlotte, N.C., at WESCO
August 3: Orlando, Fla., at GEXPRO
August 4: Tampa, Fla., at CED Greentech
August 8: Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, at The Power Store
August 10: Austin, Texas, at GEXPRO
August 10: Rocklin, Calif., at BayWa r.e.
August 17: Phoenix, Ariz., at BayWa r.e.
August 22: San Diego, Calif., at CED San Diego
August 24: West Sacramento, Calif., at PROINSO

— Solar Builder magazine