Sharp Electronics Corporation, a US subsidiary of Osaka-based Sharp Corporation, formed Energy Systems and Services Group (ESSG), which entered the market in 2014 with the launch of the SmartStorage behind-the-meter scalable energy storage system.
Designed to reduce peak demand charges in commercial and industrial buildings, Carl Mansfield, general manager and founder of ESSG, says the SmartStorage system can be deployed as a standalone storage system or in tandem with a solar system, and it uses energy management software installed onsite. The system keeps a large amount of energy stored in reserve, which it selectively releases in order to limit a facility’s electricity demands.
The lithium ion batteries are sized to store 40 kWh for just over one hour, or 80 kWh for about two and a half hours. The system can be scaled to as much as 480-kW power rating, to accommodate customers’ needs.
Mansfield says Samsung SDI is currently supplying the batteries, but ESSG tracks it and can adopt the leading battery technology whichever that might be. Ideal Power (profiled further on in this article) currently supplies the inverters, but Sharp is capable of adopting alternate inverters, too. The company has selected Ideal Power to supply inverters for the storage system because of high efficiency and compact size.
Sharp offers a 10-year performance guarantee in conjunction with its 10-year operations and service agreement for all SmartStorage system installations. “We will guarantee a minimum demand reduction which is reviewed on an annual basis,” says Mansfield. “If we do not meet that demand level, we will compensate for the deficit.”
Sharp’s operations and service agreement provides continuous whole-system remote monitoring, performance tuning, and maintenance with its own intelligent energy management software. Mansfield says, “We deploy a separate onsite controller and can run the site automatically and this is integrated into a cloud-based territory server.”
If the Internet fails, the onsite system will continue to operate and forward the cached data once the Internet connection is reestablished. Mansfield notes that the system does not currently provide emergency or backup power, but development is underway to add that feature.
When Sharp’s SmartStorage system is deployed alongside a solar system it can increase the return on investment on installed solar assets, he says. Each system is separately integrated into the building’s Alternating Current (AC) electrical system, and the battery storage system is replenished from the grid while the solar system narrows the load peak. Operating in tandem, the battery storage system firms demand reductions and improves overall solar performance.
Mansfield adds that ESSG staff has looked into plugging batteries into a solar system’s Direct Current (DC) system, thereby eliminating one AC/DC inverter, but has found that this alternative to be less flexible and oftentimes more problematic to deploy. For example, the solar system integrator may prefer to select their own inverters, rather than one compatible with our SmartStorage system.
Furthermore, much greater flexibility for system sizing and deployment location is achieved when ESSG staff uses its preferred battery inverters separately from the solar inverters. This is particularly beneficial when the storage batteries and solar panels must be installed in different locations and at lengthy distances.
By installing both a solar system and a SmartStorage system, the building owner can benefit from a combination of solar tax credits and incentives in addition to applicable storage incentives if offered. Both California and New York do offer energy storage incentives.