You’ve no doubt heard about the solar boom that’s been happening over the last four years. One can easily make the argument that the development of innovative solar financing models has been responsible for that boom. Once solar leases, power purchasing agreements (PPAs), no-money-down financing, and even free solar became common, the doors opened wide to solar adoption.
We may be at the beginning of the same cycle with energy storage: Last week, Stem Inc., a maker of energy storage systems, announced that it had landed $5 million in venture capital investment to launch a new financing model that allows property owners to install energy storage — and energy management — systems with no money down.
Stem is targeting commercial customers with its first entry into the market, with two San Francisco hotels as its first customers. The technology works by drawing power either directly from the grid or from solar panels on the hotel roof and using it during the peak energy demand times, when costs are higher. By drawing grid energy during low demand times, or by saving excess solar power to use at night, companies can save as much as 40 percent on their energy bills.
Harry Hobbs, the area director of engineering at one of Stem’s San Francisco client hotels, said he is already seeing savings of as much as $20,000 per month through Stem’s energy storage technology.
Clearly, residential customers aren’t going to save $20,000 a month (unless you’re one of the celebrities we discussed in our Celebrity Homes: Solar Edition infographic last month), but when energy storage follows the same adoption and innovation path that solar is currently enjoying, it will help them save even more money on their monthly energy bills, or help them break free of the electrical grid entirely.
And make no mistake: Energy storage is coming, soon. Last month, we profiled some of the companies leading the charge for solar storage, and earlier this month California’s Public Utilities Commission kicked off a program requiring utilities to store more than 1.3 gigawatts of energy by 2020.
“Two years from now, energy storage financing will be mainstream,” said Jigar Shah, the SunEdison founder and a principal at Clean Feet, told the Mercury News. “It takes two years for mainstream capital to get comfortable with new technology. The clock is now ticking for energy storage.”
By Matthew Wheeland