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 again in Las Vegas or Anaheim or Orlando or San Francisco or Long Beach — we’re stuck with the internet and events such as the California Solar and Storage Association (CASSA) webinars that strive to “mimic the experience of trade shows without a lot of fancy virtual trade show hoopla.” No schwag, no convention center food.This week, hosts Jennifer Alfsen of Mayfield Renewables and Jeff Spies of Planet Plan Sets interviewed energy storage system manufacturers on their latest gear. Here’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.A company representative said, “Instead 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.”
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. Enphase’s Andrew Claudio pointed out that earlier generations of its energy storage product were aimed at time-of-use tariffs, but what was clearly needed for the U.S. market was backup power — now included in the Encharge batteries that are currently shipping and being installed for backup, time-of-use, and self-consumption. The Encharge 10 storage system has a battery storage capacity of 10.1 kWh, and the Encharge 3 storage system has a battery storage capacity of 3.4 kWh. Fortress Power, based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, builds lithium-ion battery systems for residential and small commercial applications with a focus on ease of installation. The company’s 5.4 kWh battery comes with a 10-year warranty, up to 6,000 cycles — and can be installed outside, according to the firm. LG Chem’s Linh Tran, director of sales in the U.S., said that the company has sold 180,000 of its home batteries worldwide. She added that the company will be adding a new 16-kWh model later this year. Tran noted that LG Chem’s partnership with Span will allow a new level of home automation with potential whole-home backup. Its partnership with SolarEdge’s energy hub provides the ability to run higher capacity loads, according to the firm.OutBack Power has been a long-time provider of a variety of battery chemistries and notes that “lead-acid is not dead — and is here to stay.” Outback was acquired by Enersys and that allows it “to be a solutions provider,” not bound by any one technology, according to the firm — which offers lithium-ion battery products as well as advanced lead-acid batteries. The company suggested that new bipolar batteries would be reaching the market next year. Paladin Power’s CEO spoke of the U.S. company’s aim to “go after resiliency” and power every circuit “including AC” to achieve grid independence. He spoke of “grid replacement technology” that can be AC or DC coupled. The company’s product is scalable from 7 kWh to 115 kWh in the same enclosure and comes with a 20-year warranty. Panasonic is one of the few vendors that builds both the silicon solar cells (based on Panasonic’s HIT technology) as well as the NMC batteries. Daniel Glaser, senior sales engineer at Panasonic told pv magazine in an earlier interview, “Brand is powerful — 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.”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 that “eventually solar-plus-storage will be like air conditioning or HVAC” — but for now it’s an “emotional sale” in light of utility shut-offs and the threat of global warming. Simpliphi was founded in 2010. Sequoya Cross, director of global sales and business development spoke of the company’s mission to “uphold the ethics of renewable energy with a non-hazardous, non-toxic lithium ferrous phosphate (LFP) battery, adding, “Taking clean energy and storing it in a toxic chemistry didn’t make sense.”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. sonnen, founded in 2010 and recently acquired by Shell, has performed more than 50,000 global installations of its lithium iron phosphate battery. Focused exclusively on residential energy storage, the company offers several products including the ecoLinx 30 with a 15-year, 15,000 cycle guarantee that includes a guaranteed throughput of 371 MWh.The archived video of the energy storage session is here.