Battery storage is gaining more traction in the distributed energy market. Last fall, California passed the first statewide energy storage directive in the United States. Issued by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the mandate requires all investor-owned utilities in the state including Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric, to jointly purchase “1,325 megawatts of energy storage” by 2020.

“The proposed targets increase between 30 percent and 55 percent every two years, creating economic incentives for multiple players with various technologies to enter the market," reports Energy Storage North America in a press release, adding:

  • Utilities will be allowed to employ energy storage for a variety of functions, such as capacity, ancillary services, and peak shaving, which in turn will provide real-world data for further market expansion.
  • Utilities may own some energy storage systems, and will procure at least 50 percent from independent developers across all segments of the grid via existing procurement processes or 'all-source' solicitations starting in 2014.”

California’s PUC is clearly progressive and groundbreaking, and it has set a course for other states to emulate. Next up at the plate as a receptive market for energy storage in North America is New York. Bill Acker, Executive Director of the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium, is positioning New York state as a global leader in energy storage technology, including applications in grid storage, transportation and power electronics.

Last summer, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a $23 million public-private investment in the creation of a battery storage test and commercialization center in partnership with NY-BEST, which moved state-of-the-art energy storage testing capabilities from Pennsylvania to a facility at the Eastman Business Park in Rochester, New York.  A few months later, the governor’s office announced that NOHMs Technologies is locating its pilot nanoscale battery materials manufacturing facility in Rochester with $1.5 million in funding from the Regional Economic Development Councils initiative.  

“The key to powering our economic growth is expanding our energy infrastructure,” said Governor Cuomo in his 2012 State of the State address.  “We can build a new energy system across our entire state.” Cuomo spearheaded the New York Energy Highway Blueprint, which includes initiatives to modernize New York’s statewide energy system.

In his State of the State speech in Albany this month, the Governor championed community-based microgrid solutions as part of his “Reimagining New York for a New Reality” initiative -- a $17 billion strategy that will transform the state’s energy supply, infrastructure, and emergency management to protect people from future instances of extreme weather. “Our plan completely transforms the way we build and protect our infrastructure, safeguard our energy supply, prepare our citizens and first responders, and provide fuel and electricity,” said Governor Cuomo. Cuomo’s mandate to launch new projects across the state that both create green jobs and protect New York's natural environment is a critical economic reform in this year’s budget.

“Community grids protect people, businesses and infrastructure from the devastation of extreme weather and from extended power outages, as were experienced following Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee," said Jim Gallagher, Executive Director of the New York State Smart Grid Consortium.

In December 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy released a report entitled Grid Energy Storage which examined the challenges and solutions for energy storage technology development and widespread installation. Ensuring safety and cost-sensitive pricing were key issues addressed in this report. This report signals that the U.S. federal government clearly wants to create a substantial energy storage marketplace and is laying the groundwork to make this a reality.

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Bill Radvak is President and CEO of American Vanadium, which is developing America’s only domestic source of vanadium electrolyte.

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