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Austin Energy reaches energy storage deals

Austin Energy recently made two deals for energy storage systems.

The city-run utility has selected German-American technology firm Younicos AG for a 1.75 MW/3.2 MWh system battery storage system and Stem Inc for a separate deployment to provide solar power storage options to its commercial customers.

Both deals are part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Sustainable and Holistic Integration of Energy Storage and Solar PV, or SHINES, program. Through the $4.3 million grant and local and state funding, Austin Energy's SHINES program is working toward reducing the cost of electricity from solar when augmented by storage projects to below $0.14/kWh. The program aims to integrate 4 MW of solar PV, 4 MW of distributed energy storage, smart inverters as well as other advanced grid equipment and software.

SNL Image

A Stem Inc. battery energy system.
Source: Stem Inc.

The goals of this project are to discover sustainable business models and find the most grid-reliable and affordable way to deploy more distributed PV solar, Karl Popham, manager of Austin Energy's emerging technologies and electric vehicles division, said in a June 2 interview. The utility will begin deploying the energy storage services later this year.

"Both companies have some very interesting technologies and some interesting approaches," he said. "We're very excited to work with them."

Younicos will work with Doosan GridTech, a Seattle-based software firm, according to a press release. Its deployment will include the use of seven of its modular Y.Cube energy storage systems. The Stem deployment of software-run storage allows the installation of up to 1 MWh, and Austin City council approved of the project last year, Stem CEO John Carrington said in an email. The program aims to cut down businesses' energy costs by providing real-time management and visualization tools, according to a separate statement.

As part of the grant, Austin Energy will publish a report on what they learned through the different projects. The utility is hoping to "get a lot of different eyes" on their work from both the government and other utilities, Popham said.

The projects also fall in line with the company's contribution toward Austin's goal of relying more on renewable energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The city intends to have 65% of its power be through renewable energy by 2025 and reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.