On it ambitious trail to create 1,940MW of new solar-produced electricity by 2016, the California Public Utilities Commission has funded a pilot project for SunPower and Ice Energy. The project will see Ice Energy use its Ice Bear energy storage technology in combination with SunPower’s PV solar systems.
“Think of it as sun + ice + wind,” said Greg Tropsa, executive vice president and co-founder of Ice Energy. “All three of these technologies have the potential to be more valuable together than any single one of them alone, and that’s what this project sets out to demonstrate.”
Part of the California Solar Initiative Research, Development, Deployment and Demonstration Program, the project is looking to display the advantages of combining energy storage systems with existing PV systems, which in theory would lessen the peak demand on commercial buildings.
“As the sun begins to set in the afternoon, the Ice Bear units will deliver stored energy to bridge the gap between increasing building electrical demand and decreasing solar energy production,” Tropsa explained. “The project will demonstrate that the combination of solar and ice storage will significantly reduce a building’s peak demand charge, saving money for the consumer and helping the environment by reducing the need for utilities to dispatch fossil fuel-fired peaking generators. The bonus is the Ice Bear storage units are recharged during the off-peak hours, absorbing wind and surplus low cost base load generation.”
Ice Energy is one of three energy storage companies who are conducting research in the program, which in turn will be put into operation by SunPower along with PG&E, KEMA, Sandia National Laboratories and an unnamed national retailer.