The orders from energy provider Southern California Edison is for behind-the-meter thermal energy storage using Ice Energy’s proprietary Ice Bear system.
Last year the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) passed the USA’s first energy storage mandate, directing investor-owned utilities in California to acquire 1,325MW of energy storage by 2020.
Ice Energy’s Ice Bear, attaches to one or more standard 5-20 ton commercial air conditioning units. The Ice Bear freezes ice at night when demand for power is low, capacity is abundant and increasingly sourced from renewables such as wind power. Then, during the day, stored ice is used to provide cooling, instead of the power-intensive air conditioning compressor. Ice Bears are deployed in smart-grid enabled, MW-scale fleets. Each Ice Bear is said to be capable of reducing harmful CO2 emissions by up to 10 tons per year.
“Ice Bears add peak capacity to the grid, reduce and often eliminate the need for feeder and other distribution system upgrades, improve grid reliability and reduce electricity costs,” claims Mike Hopkins, CEO of Ice Energy. “What’s special about our patented design and engineering is the efficiency and cost. It’s energy storage at the lowest cost possible with extraordinary reliability.”
Almost 1,000 Ice Bear units are already installed in more than 40 different utility service territories nationwide.
Developed specifically for small to medium-sized commercial buildings, the Ice Bear works in concert with existing package air conditioning units.
Daytime energy demand from air conditioning – typically 40-50% of a building’s electricity use during peak daytime hours – can be reduced significantly by the Ice Bear. Each Ice Bear delivers an average reduction of 12kW of source equivalent peak demand for a minimum of 6 hours daily, shifting 72kWh of on-peak energy to off-peak hours. In addition, the Ice Bear can be configured to provide utilities with demand response on other nearby electrical loads – effectively doubling or even tripling the peak-demand reduction capacity of the Ice Bear, according to the manufacturer.
The Ice Bear is installed behind the utility-customer meter, but the Ice Bear system was designed for the utility as a grid asset, with most of the benefits flowing to the utility and grid as a whole. Therefore Ice Bear projects are typically funded either directly or indirectly by the utility.
The Ice Bear energy storage unit operates in two basic modes, ice cooling and ice charging – to store cooling energy at night, and to deliver that energy the following day.
During ice charging, a self-contained charging system freezes 450 gallons of water in the Ice Bear’s insulated tank. As daytime temperatures rise, the Ice Bear switches to cooling mode. The ice cooling cycle lasts for at least 6 hours.