Energy storage technology recharges

New data shows projects teaming renewable energy systems with advanced batteries are on the rise.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

Increasingly, renewable energy technology installations are being paired with power storage technology, a trend underscored by Hanwha SolarOne's $8 million investment this week in Silent Power.

Korea's Hanwha Group is the lead investor in Silent Power's Series B funding. Its money will go toward supporting a comarketing strategy that bundles Hanwha SolarOne's photovoltaic panels with Baxter, Minn.-based Silent Power's distributed energy storage platform, OnDemand Energy Appliance. The first bundle will be available in September 2012.

"We know from our customers that energy storage is an essential key to unlocking the full potential of renewable energy," said Charles Kim, president of Hanwha Solar One. "It enables a smarter energy grid and achieves reliability and value for a solar system."

OnDemand stores excess energy that isn't needed during peak production for use at a later time. The technology is batter-agnostic: it can use lithium-ion, sealed lead acid and advanced lead-acid battery packs.

A new analysis by Pike Research shows that energy storage projects rose 8 percent in the first half of 2012, compared with a year ago. During that time, the number of projects announced reached 649, compared with 600 in 2011. The number of project that actually became operational during the first six months of this year was 514.

"Considerable momentum is building behind newer energy storage technologies, such as advanced batteries, particularly as the renewable energy community embraces storage as a means of mitigating risks associated with variable power generation resources," said Brittany Gibson, an analyst with Pike Research.

Indeed, just last week, energy storage emerged as a major feature of a new wind generation project on the Hawaiian island of Maui that came online last week. First Wind's Kaheawa Wind project adds additional capacity of 21 MW. The new farm uses Dynamic Power Resource energy storage technology from Xtreme Power. This helps smooth out the efficiency of the project; it is the third energy storage system deployed by First Wind in Hawaii.

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5 renewable energy trends to watch in 2012

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