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20, Mar 2019 / rebound

Embedded Energy Storage: The Overlooked Path Forward

By: Russell Goldfarbmuren

Back in November I was invited to speak to the Colorado Renewable Energy Society about what Rebound is doing and how it relates to energy storage. This was a great opportunity because I rarely get to talk about how we use IcePoint® to provide energy storage to the grid.

When we started Rebound, solving energy storage was the only problem we were interested in solving. That may come as a surprise to most people who follow Rebound because we are a refrigeration company not an energy storage company. We don’t make batteries (thermal or chemical) and, more confusing still, our technology doesn’t generate most of its revenue via energy storage.

This is all intentional. Our customers want IcePoint® because it freezes product faster and generates more revenue for their business. As a bonus, IcePoint® also helps them decrease their energy consumption, avoid peak rates, and mitigate demand charges just like a battery would. Our customer traction, however, is all about the increased revenue we can deliver by freezing product faster.

Why did we develop IcePoint® with a focus on freezing product faster if we wanted to solve energy storage? Simple: stand-alone energy storage isn’t a good business. Here is an example. If a typical industrial customer is provided perfect, 100% efficient energy storage to arbitrage time of use rates and mitigate all demand charges, they would save about $140k/yr. This would require a 18 MWh battery system which would cost about $7.2M. That’s a simple payback of 50 years.

If that same customer had spent $7.2M on IcePoint® systems they would generate $11M/yr in earnings from freezing additional product and benefit from the exact same $140k/yr savings by providing energy storage. The battery has a 50 year payback and IcePoint® has a 8 month payback. That, in a nutshell is why we developed IcePoint® and not a battery.

This dramatic difference in energy storage costs is not unique to IcePoint® or even Rebound. Many others have noted how it is far cheaper to provide embedded energy storage, as IcePoint® does, instead of stand-alone energy storage, like a battery. My goal in giving this talk was to introduce the audience to the concept of embedded energy storage using other examples like hot water heaters before diving into IcePoint® and Rebound.

For those of you who want to learn more about energy storage concepts like IcePoint®, which uses existing infrastructure to deliver much cheaper energy storage, please give the papers referenced below a read. These two papers give a great overview of how energy storage doesn’t need to come from stand-alone systems. Instead, we can make the grid more flexible by using cheaper and more reliable methods like IcePoint®:

CPI: Flexibility The Path To Low-Carbon, Low-Cost Electricity Grids

Brattle Group: The Hidden Battery

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