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Onsite Energy Storage Joins the Conversation with Commercial Buildings

Neil Strother
Sep 03, 2020

Guidehouse Insights

Big batteries are increasingly a part of the discussion as commercial building owners and managers strategize ways to reduce energy costs. The notion of onsite energy storage via batteries is not new, but now the market is poised for growth.

The market’s position was referenced recently in Wall Street Journal (note: full story is behind a paywall). The Wall Street Journal story highlights projects that feature onsite energy storage that cater to the needs of commercial customer and not to large storage arrays, which are typically built by utilities to supply power to the grid. My colleague Ricardo Rodriguez is quoted in the piece, saying “We’re going to start seeing the case for a wide array of commercial and industrial customers deploying battery storage.”

Innovative Building Energy Storage Projects Emerge

New projects featuring building energy storage systems (BESS) for commercial facilities are underway. For example, in San Diego, California, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical recently announced a deal with EDF Renewables North America and CollectiveSun to deploy an integrated system that includes storage. Briefly, the project calls for the vendors to design, build, and operate a comprehensive energy system that entails rooftop and carport solar, onsite battery storage, and EV charging equipment. The onsite storage piece will have a capacity of 800 kWp/1,805 kWh behind the meter. Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical expects the overall system to save more than $7 million in utility costs during the system’s lifetime at its campus in La Jolla, California.

Another project in California includes a storage component, this one at a manufacturing plant operated by BYD, a China-based automaker. The energy project in Los Angeles County was halted for a couple of months in March 2020, due to a state mandated shutdown during the height of the pandemic; however, work has since resumed. The project is supported by technology vendor Apparent. Once operational, the system at the BYD facility is expected to have 2 MW solar and 2 MWh storage. Estimated annual savings in energy costs is calculated at more than $100,000.

Also, a Siemens demonstration project in New Jersey highlights storage as a key component of its microgrid offering. The company is working to integrate a range of solutions including traditional power generation, storage, and its core solutions in the building automation and cloud platform space. Perhaps the single biggest lever to maximize the use of locally generated grid power is the nearly 1 MWh energy storage system for the facility, according to a recent CleanTechnica report. When fully charged, the battery can power the facility 2-3 hours without any added power.

The Economics of BESS Make Sense, with Support from Integrators

Onsite battery storage for commercial facilities makes sense from an economic and sustainable perspective. This storage option also offers building owners and managers greater control of usage and costs, helping to lower operational expenses. These savings can be passed on to tenants, which makes for a more attractive building. We are going to see more of this type of energy storage in the coming years. To help spur this market, integrators specializing in energy storage systems will be crucial for market success. For more on the topic of storage integrators, see the Guidehouse Insights Leaderboard: Commercial and Industrial Energy Storage Systems Integrators.