The U.S. solar and storage industry is figuring out how to exchange information without exchanging Covid-19.
August 7, 2020
Reuniting with solar and storage industry friends and coworkers in-person at trade shows in the U.S. is not happening this year.
Until we can meet in again in Las Vegas or Anaheim or Orlando or San Francisco or Long Beach â€” weâ€™re stuck with the internet and events such as the California Solar and Storage Association (CALSSA) webinars that strive to â€śmimic the experience of trade shows without a lot of fancy virtual trade show hoopla.â€ť No schwag, no convention center food.
This week, hosts Jennifer Alfsen ofÂ Mayfield Renewables and Jeff Spies of Planet Plan Sets interviewed energy storage system manufacturers on their latest gear. Hereâ€™s a summary.
Blue Planet Energy Systems is founded by Tetris founder Henk Rogers and started as an off-grid project for the founder in Hawaii. Today, the company builds LiFePO4-based battery systems, lauding the safe and reliable performance of that energy storage chemistry for residential and commercial usage.
Â A company representative said, â€śInstead of just another battery for C&I, we have stepped into this market to fill a void and provide solutions. Leaving integration issues to the installer slows down the process of getting projects up and running.â€ť
Discover Battery was founded in Lethbridge, Alberta in 1949 and started building lead-acid batteries for off-grid applications. The company now offers a variety of lead acid battery chemistries and form factors as well as lithium-ion batteries for the widest swathe of applications. The company highlighted its ability to perform adaptive charging and manipulate charging voltage to extend battery life.
PanasonicÂ is one of the few vendors that builds both the silicon solar cells (based on Panasonicâ€™s HIT technology) as well as the NMC batteries. Daniel Glaser, senior sales engineer at Panasonic told pv magazine in an earlier interview, â€śBrand is powerful â€” after a house and a car, a PV/storage system worth tens of thousands of dollars is one of the larger purchases a family will make.â€ť
The Panasonic residential energy system comes in two sizes: 11.4 kilowatt-hours and 17.1 kilowatt-hours, depending on how many of the 55-pound battery packs are incorporated into the field-serviceable housing. The units are available in DC-coupled or AC-coupled versions and so can be retrofitted to an existing solar system if the situation demands.
Glaser said thatÂ â€śeventually solar-plus-storage will be like air conditioning or HVACâ€ťÂ â€” but for now itâ€™s anÂ â€śemotional saleâ€ť in light of utility shut-offs and the threat of global warming.
SimpliphiÂ was founded in 2010. Sequoya Cross, director of global sales and business development spoke ofÂ the companyâ€™s mission to â€śuphold the ethics of renewable energy with a non-hazardous, non-toxic lithium ferrous phosphate (LFP) battery, adding, â€śTaking clean energy and storing it in a toxic chemistry didnâ€™t make sense.â€ť
Cross said that the company started out doing lead-acid replacement but has innovated to supply off-grid and industrial, telecom, military and grid-tied applications. The modular product is available in 5.8 kW and 22.8 kW sizes, scalable to megawatts.