1 – What is Greensmith's product offering?
Greensmith is a technology company providing turn-key, intelligent energy storage systems for distributed applications across the grid. In addition to selecting, procuring, and installing the appropriate batteries, Power Conversion System, and other balance-of-system components for a customer’s system, Greensmith specializes in advanced control and optimization software to maximize the system-wide benefits of distributed energy storage. Moreover, Greensmith developed an active-balancing BMS (Battery Management System), as well as a set of end-use application programs including intermittency smoothing of renewable power generation, and a secure online portal for customers to manage their energy storage resources remotely. These data analytics and software make Greensmith energy storage units into intelligent energy control systems.
Greensmith is battery agnostic, meaning we support multiple battery manufacturers, and we are able to incorporate new battery innovations at lower prices as the market continues to evolve.
2 – What does it mean for energy storage to be "intelligent"?
Intelligent energy storage allows customers to optimize usage of their energy storage unit(s). Greensmith is tapping into modern computing and communications to collect, analyze, and utilize data to maximize the value of their asset. This “intelligent” energy storage can accept inputs from a variety of ancillary devices. In addition, through the online portal, users can control all units in-sync as one large energy storage system, or they can allow each unit to do its own task, enabling multiple value-steams for the customer.
The batteries within each Greensmith unit are run with fleet control, such that batteries are arranged in a peer-to-peer local area network. One assigned SuperNode receives instructions from the online user Portal and relays instructions to its peer batteries. The system is built with redundant SuperNodes so that there is no one single point of failure.
3 – Who is purchasing these systems, and for what applications?
Since our founding in 2008, Greensmith has supplied its software and system integration services in over twenty installations. Our customers are leading electric utilities (eight to date), renewable developers, academic/research institutions, and commercial developers working on sustainability initiatives. These customers are primarily located in the US, but we are expecting to expand internationally during 2012.
Greensmith units can be deployed in the many applications of distributed energy storage, including renewable integration, load following/load management, peak shifting, ancillary services like frequency regulation, VAR control, and backup power. We are also able to provide grid islanding and micro grid functionalities in cases like Community Energy Storage projects. Because our customer portal provides visibility across all units in a customer’s system, the solution is highly modular, allowing customers to build their distributed energy storage system as their needs change over time.
4 – How are these systems used to integrate renewable energy into the grid?
When paired with renewable energy, the Greensmith PowerVault unit charges during periods of generation, and then discharges back into the grid as the customer sees fit. Thus, by pairing renewable generation with energy storage, renewable developers can provide a firm, shaped resource instead of intermittent generation. For commercial and residential sized systems, customers can store their own net generation on-site and use it during periods of high demand to reduce demand charge fees. Our AMI-friendly software can accept data from residential and commercial buildings with smart meters.
5 – How do Greensmith systems improve power quality and maintain grid stability?
Greensmith units are distributed (AND portable in some units), so that they can be located directly next to the cause of a power quality or grid stability issue. It’s a highly localized approach, which is not only more efficient, but also elongates the life of grid infrastructure.
Functionally, these distributed Greensmith units can provide load following, renewable smoothing, and/or VAR control at the source of the issue – at the transformer, on a customer site, or at the source of intermittent generation. T&D utilities can also locate our units at strategic nodes on the grid to alleviate congestion problems. In markets like California with real-time congestion pricing mechanisms, strategic energy storage will reduce these congestion costs.
6 – How does your technology address grid stresses as related to distributed rooftop solar generation?
As more homes and businesses install solar energy on their rooftops, grid distribution stations become more stressed, especially in areas where panels are adopted in a high volume. This is because the solar energy resources tend to generate during the middle of the day, when fewer people are at home to use up the electricity on-site. Instead, the energy goes back into the grid (which is why solar owners need net meters), and back up the “food chain” of the distribution system. These systems were meant to carry power in one direction, not both, causing stress on distribution transformers.
To alleviate this issue, Greensmith’s distributed energy storage solution is installed near the stressed distribution feeder. Rather than flowing into the distribution station, the distributed generation will flow into the Greensmith battery, where it can be stored and deployed later in response to demand in the evening.
7 – As solar energy installations continue to grow, world-wide, what does GS see as the future for your systems?
Solar is growing in the utility, commercial, and residential sectors, so Greensmith has solutions available for all three of these markets. In the residential and commercial sectors, Greensmith can provide building energy balancing, which is a market we plan to enter internationally in the near-term with a partner company. Residential balancing and grid-islanding is also possible via Community Energy Storage (CES), a specification which is currently in development at Greensmith. Our AMI-friendly software can accept data from residential and commercial buildings with smart meters.
On the utility-scale side of the industry, Greensmith has a number of utility customers who have made recent orders for distributed energy storage systems (as described above in question 6) to manage stress on the grid and elongate the lifetime of critical grid infrastructure. In particular, one major California IOU purchased a distributed 1.5 MWh system. We anticipate more growth from the utility sector, especially as these utilities and their system operators continue to fulfill renewable energy procurement standards. Similarly, we anticipate more renewable developers seeking solutions to shape intermittent generation and improve their bargaining position with utilities.
8 – As more electric vehicles enter the market, what role will GS technology play with EV charging stations?
Ten percent of Greensmith’s existing installations couple solar PV and EV charging. In these projects, the Greensmith unit stores the solar energy for use in electric vehicle charging. Without the energy storage unit, the solar energy would flow back into the grid as described before, and additionally the EV charge station would draw a lot of power when charging a vehicle. By adding the energy storage unit, neither the PV nor the EV charging add greater load or stress to the distribution system, so we envision stationary energy storage as a critical element to sustainable growth in the EV sector.
KATE REIMER, Market Development Manager
Greensmith Energy Management Systems
Kate manages Greensmith’s marketing and outreach activities, sales pipeline, and policy development. Kate's career has been focused on energy sustainability for seven years.
Kate holds an Honors BA in Economics from UC Berkeley and an MS in Management Science & Engineering from Stanford University. As an undergraduate at Berkeley, Kate minored in Energy & Resources and City Planning. From her sophomore year until graduation, Kate also worked part-time and over summers at the New Resource Bank, the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Lab, and the Transportation Sustainability Research Center.
In 2008, Kate was recruited to join the PG&E Energy Procurement Rotation Program, where she focused on utility-scale renewable energy procurement and development in California. In this role, she performed modeling of PG&E’s renewable resource portfolio to inform the utility’s long-term procurement strategies. In the Renewable Resource Development group, she wrote business cases on behalf of utility-scale renewable generation projects for PG&E's BOD approval. In the Emerging Clean Technology group she worked directly in several energy storage projects: first in a DOE proposal for a Compressed Air Energy Storage project in PG&E service territory, and later in project management of a NaS battery installation at a customer site.
Kate completed her MS in Management Science and Engineering at Stanford. Her Masters projects included life-cycle evaluation of a home energy monitoring device, market evaluation of peak-shaving building software, and the opportunities associated with low-cost sensing and controls as applied to water-saving demand response programs in California. After graduating, she worked in Portland, OR as Program Manager at a small Automated Demand Response start-up company.
Kate regularly makes presentations, including a recent Accenture Smart Grid Vendor Forum, and the CEATI forum on Managing System Impacts of the Renewable Portfolio in Santa Monica on Wednesday March 12.
About Greensmith Energy Management Systems
Greensmith Energy Management Systems can be contacted at: kreimer (at) greensmith.us.com. The company’s website is: www.greensmithenergy.com.