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The Rise of Energy Storage: Emerging Storage Technologies Track

May 5, 2020 UNC Clean Tech Summit Energy Storage Blog

The panel on emerging storage technologies featured specialists in some of the most influential energy companies to date. Three key panelists included Tom Fenimore, Mark Johnson, and Fabio Albano.

Tom Fenimore is a Business Development Manager with Distributed Energy Technologies Duke Energy in the Charlotte, NC office. Mark Johnson is a Thermal Battery Sales Leader with CALMAC. Fabio Albano is the Vice President of Technology at NantEnergy.

A key issue discussed was the role of lithium batteries and the controversies around their use. Many people fear the use of lithium batteries due to risks of fire. Fabio described that the issue with these batteries it the fact that combustion occurs quickly due to the fact that oxygen is present within the box itself. This creates a self-sustaining fire that is impossible to stop. The use of other batteries with water-based electrolytes can help solve this issue by removing the oxygen that makes it flammable. At this point in time, this project is still in the works.

Fabio also spoke about the role of duration of need with battery storage. Each storage system needs an estimation for how much storage is needed. The sluggishness and inefficiency of some technologies change the way renewable energy solutions are implemented. The solution, he concluded, is that a combination of technologies will be necessary to address the way grids receive their energy.

Tom spoke about how Duke Energy is in the process of retiring coal power plants. Within this project, there are sites that are well-suited for other renewable large scale energy storage systems. The issue is that displacing power plants means they are dealing with thousands of megawatts worth of energy. Fortunately, when working with infrastructure that already exists, it makes the development much easier to complete. As the company gets these pilot projects off the ground, they are looking to find investing companies that have staying power.

Mark highlighted some of his company’s installations in over 4,000 buildings, including some in Manhattan, NY in the Rockefeller Center. They are helping people reduce their energy spending. Despite lots of appeal for this, it is still hard to make sales in this area due to the fact that chiller plants are only replaced once every 15 to 25 years. Therefore, tapping into the sales cycle requires targeting new building developments where you can get in touch with the right people.

Overall, the work in energy storage technologies is working on ways to prioritize recommissioning rather than decommissioning. The technologies produced in this sector creating ways to make energy storage more sustainable.

About the Author

Shepard Barnes

Clean Tech Summit Intern, Spring 2020