Making Energy Storage Simpler and Easier to Implement

Pre-engineered solution maximizes operational savings

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The new Building Load Deferment (BLD) system, from HIGHMARK, New York City, is a pre-engineered thermal energy storage system, providing a simplified system that enables energy usage to be deferred to off-peak hours by means of ice storage and then utilizing that ice for the building’s chilled water system during peak hours, resulting in energy savings of up to 50 percent. The compact system is designed to be installed quickly anywhere in a building and to readily integrate with existing equipment.

“There’s a great need for energy storage,” noted Richard Gerbe, co-founder of HIGHMARK. “There’s a strain on the grid.” But the challenge is “to get building owners to buy into energy storage.”

“These systems can be difficult to understand and difficult to engineer,” said Anthony Sannazzaro, co-founder of HIGHMARK. “So we put together Building Load Deferment to make it easier to understand and easier to implement, turning a complex system into a product that’s very easy to grasp.”

“The reality of the situation is that energy storage for every building is a great idea,” said Gerbe. “We look at Building Load Deferment as being energy storage for the masses.”

The BLD equipment consists of three components: 1) the controller, which is the brain behind its ice building and ice usage; 2) the ice charger, for making ice; and 3) ice storage.

The BLD can be used as a stand-alone unit or, for more sophisticated operations, it can be integrated into a facility’s building management system (BMS).

“Basically,” Sannazzaro said, “the BLD will make ice at night when electricity is less expensive and then melt it for cooling during the day to avoid the need for mechanical cooling”

To optimize the system and eliminate peak demand charges, Gerbe said his firm can help customers track, trend, and study their energy usage “to determine when they’ll get the most benefit to build ice and when they’ll get the most benefit to burn ice.”

If the customer is set up for demand response, the utility will provide a signal via the cloud when ice melting should take over for mechanical cooling to reduce electricity demand. The BLD will maximize curtailment potential while minimizing impact on day-to-day operations. In exchange for participation in the program, the building owner gets paid for the energy not used.

HIGHMARK sees buildings with chiller plants as the greatest opportunity for the BLD. “But that doesn’t rule out the opportunity to do this with a large rooftop system,” said Sannazzaro. It’s more about the amount of energy the HVAC system is using “A smaller building might not be a good candidate,” he said.

The BLD is being targeted for the Northeast market now, said Gerbe, but the company does have plans to expand beyond that region.

“The BLD is pre-engineered to provide various kW reduction levels,” Gerbe said. “It is compact and designed to be retrofitted into existing buildings.” Besides being able to be installed anywhere inside a building, it can also be installed on the roof.

Because the BLD is a pre-engineered system, it provides pre-determined economics. End users can quickly calculate the return on investment for their application.

In addition, it qualifies for utility rebates, which can be significant. In New York City, Gerbe said rebates can pay for up to 50 percent of the cost of the installation.

Overall, Gerbe estimates a one to three year payback period for the BLD.

By taking a product approach, “we have optimized the value benefit,” he said. “Building owners can understand products.”

The BLD “also needed to be modular so it could be installed anywhere in the building where there’s unused space.” This makes retrofitting a much simpler process.

To view the article in ACHR News, click here.