The organizers of the Energy Storage North America (ESNA) conference and exhibition chose San Diego for a reason: it’s a great place to visit in the summertime but more importantly, Southern California and the rest of the Golden State are at the epicenter of the storage revolution.
Our booth was active, evidence of the growing interest in the NX Fusion Plus integrated solar-and-storage system and flow batteries in general. The ESNA show itself was still relatively small—featuring about 100 exhibitors representing most of the links in the storage value chain and a few thousand attendees—but the quality of traffic was high. The professionals I spoke with were mostly executives, senior managers and engineers from utilities, utility-scale developers and EPCs, and distributed generation (DG) developers and contractors who were very serious about incorporating energy storage systems into their solar projects.
Another surprise was how familiar people were with flow batteries, such as the Avalon vanadium-flow (VF) batteries that provide the storage component in our NX Fusion Plus system. The word seems to be getting out that storage is both about lithium-ion and vanadium-flow products, among other solutions. As a part of the Flex Energy Solutions group, NEXTracker and Flex are proud to offer a range of storage solutions to meet our customers’ needs whether they be for smaller plug and play DG projects in the California agricultural sector (NEXTracker) to larger utility scale projects requiring specific battery preferences (Flex). We were certainly excited to show off our integrated solution for the first time and people seemed to “get it” since the product was shown as an integrated unit.
Once I had a chance to elaborate on the NX Fusion Plus’ relatively simple system architecture, ease of installation, and lack of fire hazard, as well as the increased inverter efficiency that the DC-coupled system provides, more often than not people were ready to sign an NDA, ask for a financial analysis, and take a closer look at the offering. The idea of a power plant made up of acres of scalable, self-contained solar-and-storage power units is generating a high level of not just curiosity, but actual business plans that could lead to the deployment of NX Fusion Plus throughout the U.S. for frequency regulation, demand charge reduction, peak demand, resiliency, and other applications.
Speaking of installation, it was a recurring topic of discussion during the show. To answer these questions, I often referred people to a new instructional video that demonstrates the ease and speed of install of the Avalon VF battery for an NX Fusion Plus system. The process takes about the same amount of time as a string inverter installation—and is much simpler than setting up a central storage-type system. The VF battery is shipped “wet” to the job site, already integrated with the inverter and pre-commissioned, and the modular assembly is then installed as a single unit. It’s as close to a “plug-and-play” installation as any storage solution on the market.
NEXTracker plans to be a part of next year’s edition of the fast-growing ESNA event, which will shift north to Pasadena, CA, in early November 2018. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about the NX Fusion Plus solar-and-storage system, you can catch us at Booth 4331 at the upcoming Solar Power International show and at energy storage “Center Stage” booth 1235 on September 11 at 1:30pm at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas.
If you haven’t read NEXTracker CTO Alex Au’s thought-provoking call to decapitate the duck (curve) and redefine baseload power through the use of intelligent, grid-strengthening solar-and-storage solutions, check out his recent blog post here.