Weekly Microgrid News — March 23, 2017
We so take the electricity infrastructure for granted that we fail to recognize it as a potent public policy tool for economic revitalization. Of all large infrastructures in the United States, nothing is more poised for transformative change, with a host of long- and short-term benefits, as today’s electricity delivery system — not roads, not information technology, not oil, coal and natural gas, not entertainment, not retail, not housing construction, not healthcare. The new electricity opportunities parallel the Internet in scope and transcend traditional industry boundaries.
ComEd has launched a pilot project to test the use of battery energy storage technology to reduce the impact of power outages in residential areas where customers experience service interruptions, particularly during extreme weather events. The utility’s Community Energy Storage pilot is being conducted in Beecher, Ill., about 40 miles south of Chicago. One of the first utilities in the nation to install CES, ComEd will also evaluate the potential of this technology to serve as a proactive tool to drive continuous improvement in service reliability.
On March 8, shortly after receiving an award from the Cleantech Group for North American company of the year, Aquion declared bankruptcy. Aquion raised a total of $190 million in venture capital and debt for its saltwater batteries intended for long-duration storage. The company also raised a lot of hype. Outgoing CEO Scott Pearson had this to say:
“Creating a new electrochemistry and an associated battery platform at commercial scale is extremely complex, time-consuming, and very capital-intensive. Despite our best efforts to fund the company and continue to fuel our growth, the company has been unable to raise the growth capital needed to continue operating as a going concern.” Pearson adds that the company is working to secure a bidder for its operating assets. As Bill Gates himself famously said: “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”
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