When we think of energy storage, most people will think of batteries. Batteries store electricity and release it as necessary for a variety of devices, from cars to phones. But batteries aren’t the only method of storing energy. A reservoir located behind the Lewiston power plant at Niagara Falls stores 1900 acres worth of water to be released during daytime hours to spin turbines and generate electricity. Elevated trains release energy as they descend. These are overlooked methods of storing energy.
Startup electricity innovator Greensmith has looked at the need for energy storage and devised a new way to look at the problem: instead of changing the hardware to match the demand, create software to optimize the hardware. Greensmith CEO John Jung has voiced the desire of energy storage as “how [it] delivers value to the grid.” He determined that storage needs to be integrated with the wholesale power grid and cost structure. By optimizing storage using software to deploy assets where they are needed, Greensmith can essentially redistribute electricity to areas where it is most valuable.
Greensmith has pushed this concept into service with 14 customers, eight of which are electric utility companies. Some of those eight companies are already moving to full scale deployment of interconnected batteries. This unique storage solution has helped stabilize grid integration for California’s growing solar production and has allowed integration of a solar array and electric vehicle recharging station in Honolulu, HI. Further integration of these “interconnected and orchestrated fleet of communicating batteries” can help maintain a stable integration of renewable sources of energy into the overall power grid, thereby expanding the use of electricity reliant services, like the vehicle recharging stations.
The Greensmith technology functions on three levels: a programmable CPU, a rich analytic layer, and centralized fleet control management. The CPU directs the batteries on how and when to distribute their stored electricity and can be adapted as markets and demands change by utilizing software updates through cloud data storage. The analytic layer monitors each battery and delegates tasks based on the battery’s individual performance levels, storage ability, and safety. The fleet control management addresses the needs of a changing power grid. It handles the variables that arise and works to overcome them.
All of this software is designed to be upgraded in the event new hardware technologies arise, such as new batteries or inverters. In a world where technology changes constantly and new methods are devised every day, it’s important to be able to adapt to any situation, and Greensmith feels they are on the right track.
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