Power Edison LLC, a startup based in New Jersey, is offering grid-scale lithium-ion battery systems housed in shipping containers that can be stacked like Legos and delivered via truck, rail or barge, Bloomberg reports.
As part of its strategy, Power Edison leases its batteries rather than selling them, cutting costs for utilities.
The Green Brook, New Jersey, company was founded by Shihab Kuran, who founded Petra Systems Inc. and also worked at NRG Energy and SunEdison.
Lithium-ion batteries are on the forefront of a boom in energy storage deployments. They dominated the makeup of storage projects in 2015, according to Navigant Consulting, composing more than half of newly announced energy storage system capacity and more than 85% of deployed power capacity.
But li-ion technology is not without its problems. It is difficult to transport li-ion batteries. They are heavy, sensitive to temperature changes and prone to bursting into flames. To address those problems, Power Edison designed containers to protect them from the rigors of travel.
“We are the Uber of battery storage,” Shihab Kuran, Power Edison’s founder said in an interview with Bloomberg.
“Today if you want to move an energy storage container by code you have to empty the batteries out, you have to put them into cool containers, you have to transport them separately,” Kuran said. “It’s a very expensive process.”
Making storage mobile allows utilities to dispatch storage systems to match shifting demand and defer costly upgrades to the grid. It also allows businesses to send batteries to where power is needed most, like Canada in winter and Brazil in summer.
Utilities typically rely on battery storage for one to three years before major upgrades are needed to meet rising power demand.
The containers, measure up to 40 feet long, and will have a capacity of 1 MWh. Power Edison expects to unveil its first project this year.
“We’re going to offer a solution for the duration that it’s needed, and after that, we’ll take our solution and re-purpose that for other applications,” Kuran said.