Energy Storage and Management

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FountainBlue’s September 12 Clean Energy Entrepreneurs’ Forum was on the topic of Energy Storage and Management. Below are notes from the conversation.

Energy storage and management is a critical piece of the energy equation as storing and managing generated energy makes energy more predictably available, with less variability. The challenge is to proactively generate large quantities of energy and make it readily and dynamically available to a ever-growing and demanding audience.
The panelists concurred on the major challenges for providing efficient storage and management systems:
• Storage and management solutions must be scalable and cost-effective.
• They must work within the existing infrastructure.
• Solutions must be easy-to-use in order for customers to adopt it.
• To fit the above three criteria, solutions must leverage proven, solid technologies in order to be cost-effective, scalable, and readily trusted and adopted.
Our panelists also commented on how storage and management solutions will be tied to the evolution of electric vehicle adoption and markets. The jury is still out in terms of how the EV market will grow and evolve, but there’s no debate that EV adoption will impact energy storage, distribution, management and usage patterns, and customers, government, businesses, utilities, and other stakeholders will need to adjust to the changes as they go, whether or not they choose to buy an EV.
Our panelists commented on some of the upcoming opportunities in this space:
• Create sensors as components of the grid, to help monitor, track and manage energy flow and distribution.
• Provide services which would help governments and utilities and homeowners and businesses to monitor and upgrade pieces of the infrastructure in a cost-effective, as needed way. A mass overhaul of infrastructure might be cleaner and even necessary, but it’s too daunting and expensive a task and it would be hard to find someone to pay for it.
• As such, perhaps the lower-hanging fruit is in emerging countries with huge energy needs, without the barriers of aging, outdated infrastructure.
• Leverage hardware and software to automate and manage energy usage to prevent un-intended problems.
• However, this may lead to intentional problems caused by hackers, rebels, militants and others bent on compromising access to energy, so there’s an opportunity to provide security services and solutions to prevent this.
• Convert renewable energy into liquid fuel, as we already have an infrastructure to deal with liquid fuels, through our traditional vehicle fueling stations.
• Consider how software and IT can be applied to existing problems in energy management and storage.
• Find technologies where you don’t need new materials, new equipment and new factories which take a lot of money. Applying existing solutions in new ways that make sense not only saves you time and money, but it also makes the idea more fundable, and is easier to develop and distribute.
• As the EV industry grows, we may progress from having resources adjust to the load to having the load adjust to the resources. There will be opportunities for those who can help various stakeholders adjust to new requirements.
In the end, whether we are talking about compressed air, pumped hydro (good solution, but many of the prime sites are taken), batteries (cost effective challenges here, but re-used EV batteries might be an opportunity), liquid fuel, solar thermal, biofuel, etc., successful clean energy storage and management companies will need to leverage existing and proven solutions in hardware, software, and other areas, to address the demanding and growing need for huge volumes of reliable energy with less variability and lower cost.

Resources:
• Eric Wesoff: September 12, 2011: Terrajoule Unstealths: Distributed Power via Solar, Steam and Storage http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Terrajoule-Unstealths-Distributed-Power-via-Solar-And-Energy-Storage/
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FountainBlue would like to thank and acknowledge our speakers for our September 12 Clean Energy Entrepreneurs’ Forum, on the topic of Energy Storage and Management:
Facilitator Steve Adelman, Managing Director, Nexus Partners
Panelist Matthew Denesuk, Ph.D., STSM, Manager of Natural Resources Modeling and Social Analytics, IBM Research Partner, IBM Venture Capital Group
Panelist Scott Elrod, Vice President, Director of Hardware Systems Laboratory, PARC
Panelist Jon Eric Thalman, Director, Regulatory Strategy & Support, PG&E
Presenting Entrepreneur Steve Bisset, CEO, Terrajoule
Please also join us in thanking our hosts at PARC for their support of this event and this series.

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