cleantech insights

The Rise of Distributed Energy Storage Systems

Thomas Roccanova

In the age of up and coming distributed energy resources, one must put energy storage in the conversation.  While Solar PV may be the current breadwinner in many people’s minds, recent developments show the future for energy storage is bright. In October 2013, the California Public Utilities Commission approved a new mandate that requires Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric to add 1.3 gigawatts of energy storage by 2020. Paired with the recently re-established SGIP incentive, energy storage is poised to become a driving force in California in the coming years.

While it is early to attribute too many specific energy storage projects directly to the newly initiated mandate, energy storage companies such as Stem and Green Charge Networks are among the emerging start-ups that are focusing on reducing demand charges through a customer-side, behind-the-meter approach of distributed energy storage. Stem, Green Charge Networks, and Coda Energy have received notable recent funding within the past year, which has helped them develop zero-money down energy storage finance programs in order to incentivize adoption among industrial and commercial customers.

Keeping in tune with the general movement toward automation, Stem and Green Charge Networks


Big Bets on Energy Storage so far in Q1


Just over a month into the first quarter, it’s becoming clear venture investors are renewing their bets on energy storage in 2014.

Within the first week of January, we’d learned of Aquion Energy‘s second, $20 million closing of its $55 million Series D round and of Amprius‘ $30 million Series C round.

Aquion Energy

Aquion Energy’s Series D, opened in April 2013, saw new investors including Bill Gates, Yung’s Enterprise, Tao Invest, Bright Capital, and Gentry Venture Partners join previous investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Foundation Capital, and Advanced Technology Ventures to help the company pursue commercial deployment of its sodium-ion battery technology in 2014. The company’s technology is reportedly already addressing an off-grid application in conjunction with a solar array for lighting and air conditioning, with a planned grid-tied deployment for demand-side energy management for a commercial customer.

AmpriusAmprius’ high-energy and high-capacity lithium-ion batteries, based on the use of silicon nanowire anodes, will initially target consumer electronics applications and could be scaled for use in electric vehicles. SAIF Partners led the company’s Series C round and was joined by all the company’s previous investors, which include Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Consolidating Trends in Downstream Solar

Marie Watanabe

Last week, Vivint Solar, a Utah-based developer of residential solar PV systems, acquired Solmetric, a CA-based manufacturer of PV installation tools and software products, for $12 million. The merger will enable Vivint Solar to offer Solmetric’s flagship products such as SunEye, PV Designer, and PV Analyzer to its customers. The newly added services would help facilitate the pre-installation site assessment and the CAD process, allowing Vivint Solar to provide more comprehensive solutions to savvy solar customers. One of the top competitors, SolarCity, also made a significant move earlier this year when it acquired Common Assets, a CA-based developer of crowd-funding systems. The company offers a web-based investment platform that allows individuals and organizations to invest in solar projects and is expected to attract more individuals and smaller organizations interested in financing solar assets.


solar blog 01302014

In another example to increase market share in solar, Proinso, a Spanish supplier of solar panels and system components, has partnered with OXIS Energy, a UK-based developer of Lithium-ion batteries, to create a new solar energy storage system. The company expects to focus on the grid-connected storage market and plans to roll out the new product this year. These mergers …

The Week in Cleantech: Oct. 21 – 27


StemThe i3 Platform tracked exciting news from across cleantech sectors last week. Stem, a company marketing battery energy storage systems designed to enable commercial utility customers to better manage their energy use and avoid peak rates, announced a financing partnership with Clean Fleet Investors. Through the program, which has an initial sum of $5 million to work with, Stem will begin offering its battery energy management systems at no or low up-front cost, much the way residential solar companies have spurred higher demand through lease and power purchase agreements.

AutomaticIn another interesting partnership, Automatic, a provider of vehicle monitoring solutions designed to help drivers become more fuel-efficient, got a boost from Apple, which said it would begin offering Automatic’s product in its stores.

Meridian EnergyIn New Zealand, renewable energy generation company Meridian Energy announced its intent to conduct an initial public offering worth $1.7 billion. At that size, the offering would be the New Zealand exchange’s largest ever. While the majority of the company’s generation portfolio comes from traditional hydro-electric plants, which provide more predictable baseload power, it also operates almost 400 MW of wind power.

277-1_logo_v1Several companies raised venture funding during the week. WiTricity, a company …

The Week in Cleantech: Aug. 26 – Sept. 1


We’re back from our Labor Day holiday here in the U.S., and it’s time to take a look back at the week in cleantech:

It was disclosed via a regulatory filing that kerfless silicon PV company Solexel closed on additional financing in the growth equity round opened in June. As the number of participating investors remained the same, we presume the $40 million capital increase comes from existing investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, DAG Ventures, and Technology Partners. The round total stands at $54.7 million.

WaterSmart Software, which seeks to do for domestic water efficiency what Opower is doing for energy efficiency, closed on a $4.5 million Series A round. The round was led by new investor The Westly Group and included participation from Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Physic Ventures, and Apsara Capital.

In the Transportation sector, fleet vehicle optimization company Local Motion raised $6 million in fresh capital from Andreessen Horowitz. The company, formerly an electric vehicle manufacturer known as Weng Motors, now provides software and kit to help companies and municipalities more efficiently share fleet vehicles among their staff.

In M&A, Millennium Power Solutions, a developer of intelligent battery energy …

The Week in Cleantech: July 15 – 21


We start our recap of the week in cleantech with some intriguing partnerships formed by cleantech startups.

Bloom Energy, which in May closed on $150 million in growth capital from German utility E.ON and Credit Suisse and is expected to go public soon, has formed a joint venture with Japanese telecommunications and internet corporation SoftBank. The partnership, in which each company is investing $20 million, will bring fuel cells to the commercial-scale distributed generation market in Japan.

Eos Energy Storage, which is commercializing Zinc-air battery technology for the grid and is backed by NRG Energy, welcomed several utilities to its ‘Genesis’ partner program. Enel, GDF Suez, National Grid, NRG, and Public Service Company of New Mexico will undertake business case evaluation, product development and optimization, and pilot demonstration of Eos’s innovative battery technology.

In venture investment, Smart Grid company On-Ramp Wireless raised $15 million in Series C equity from new strategic investor Enbridge, as well as existing investors Energy Technology Ventures and Third Wave Ventures. The company indicated that the funds will be used to further commercialize the company’s Smart Grid and Digital Oil Field solutions.

To dynamically track cleantech deals …

Finding (EV) Religion in Israel: 4 Reasons to Believe in Better Place

Greg Neichin

Like many American Jews visiting Israel, I found religion today.   It was not religion of the spiritual kind however, it was religion of the electric variety.  Today, I stand amongst the converted.   Converted to Better Place’s view of the world and the potential for the company to be a transformative force in the electric vehicle market.

I am a most unlikely convert.  I don’t own a car, let alone an electric one, and I’m quite content to not own one.  From a policy perspective, I would prefer to see governments focus on subsidizing better forms of public transportation before promoting more personal vehicle ownership.  More pointedly, I’ve been known to utter skeptical thoughts out loud in front of journalists about the electric vehicle market.  Apparently, last month I told a group of reporters that “electric vehicles are a bet that could turn out to be wrong”.  The point that I was attempting to make was that I believe some of the adoption forecasts in the market were too aggressive.  That nuance doesn’t make for a good headline.

Assuming that electric vehicles are indeed a bet though, there is no one with more chips on the table than …

Global Cleantech 100: An Interview with Mark McGough, CEO, Ioxus

Whitney Michael

I had the pleasure of speaking with Mark McGough, CEO of Ioxus, just after the conclusion of the “Asia Advantage” panel at the Global Cleantech 100 Summit on October 18.  He spoke on Ioxus’ strategy to expand in Asia alongside representatives from Boston-Power, LanzaTech and Waterhealth.

Ioxus, one of this year’s Global Cleantech 100 companies, makes ultracapacitors that other companies put in their products to make them more efficient and work better.  Mark was kind enough to speak with me about Ioxus’ product, strategy and being a part of the Global Cleantech 100.

Describe your ultracapacitor technology for us.

We make components that go into other people’s products.  If I can paraphrase BASF, we make their products better.  We make wind turbines more efficient, we make hybrid buses perform better, we make flashlights last longer.  In each case, we provide an ultracapacitor-based form of energy storage.

The number of ways designers are using ultracapitors exponentially increases each year.  it doesn’t have as much energy storage capacity as a battery, but it charges very quickly in a matter of seconds….you can charge and discharge it a million times and it’s much more powerful. So it has higher power density, so when …

Storage: Week in Review

Alon Gavrielov

Electrovaya, based out of Canada, announced a couple of projects and partnerships this week involving its lithium-ion clean battery technology.  That and a bit more below:

M&A/ Partnerships/Investments:

Bosch, joined by BASF and ThyssenKrupp System Engineering is planning to build a pilot production line for lithium-ion batteries in Germany.

Electrovaya has signed an agreement with Manitoba Hydro and the University of Manitoba to develop and test a battery system that uses old lithium ion batteries from electric cars for renewable energy sources.



Electrovaya has signed a contract to provide a lithium ion battery energy storage system of approximately 1.2MWh for demonstration purposes as part of a project involving several partners (and supported by the Canadian government) investigating storage applications for renewable energy generation.

NEC is testing out a home storage system within a recently built “Smart House” at the Institute of Industrial Science of Tokyo University.

Storage: Week in Review

Alon Gavrielov

A few interesting energy storage projects in the news: Beacon Power has received a grant from the state of Pennsylvania for a flywheel projects while ZBB has signed a contract to supply their storage system to the US Navy.  More below:

M&A/ Partnerships/Investments:

China International Trust and Investment Corporation (CITIC) has signed an agreement with the Bolivia government to explore lithium reserves in the country.

Nexeon secured Series C fundraising to scale up production of its silicon-anode technology for lithium-ion batteries.



Altair Nanotechnologies Inc. (Altairnano) has signed a contract with the Hawai’i Natural Energy Institute to supply an energy storage system for a test of solar energy integration

ZBB received a US Navy contract to supply a 500 KW zinc-bromide energy storage system to naval facility in California.

Beacon Power awarded $5 million grant by state of Pennsylvania for construction of a 20MW flywheel storage facility.

Green housing pilot project in Singapore to utilize Panasonic lithium-ion batteries for storage.