Mythbusting: 5 Energy Storage Misconceptions and the Reality Behind Them

by | Aug 17, 2022

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Among commercial and industrial organizations, the concept of saving money using energy storage, predominantly in the form of large-scale batteries, is becoming more mainstream. Battery storage gives C&I facilities a practical and cost-effective way to manage energy. On its own, battery storage allows businesses to store energy when it’s cheapest and use that stored energy at the most expensive times; when combined with solar, battery storage helps companies meet corporate social responsibility and resilience goals while also managing costs. But though awareness is certainly on the rise, misconceptions about the technology still hold many companies back.

Johannes Rittershausen, CEO of energy storage solution provider Convergent Energy + Power (Convergent), breaks down the most common misconceptions behind battery storage.

Misconception #1. “The technology isn’t there yet.”

The Reality: The technology set is ready for primetime now. “This inflection point has really only taken place in the last two years, but it has happened,” says Rittershausen. “Battery storage is no longer a science experiment. Our society is powered by lithium-ion batteries large and small – smartphones, laptops, electric vehicles – and the technology is there.”

Misconception #2. “Battery storage is too expensive.”

The Reality: Developing a solar-plus-storage solution can be more cost-effective for businesses that need to manage their utility bills and increase reliability, particularly with fossil fuel prices so high. “The commercial offerings of what you can buy from vendors is very mature,” Rittershausen says. “It’s quite different from five years ago when battery storage was expensive, there were only a few vendors, and it didn’t work as well.”

Convergent funds the battery energy storage systems. “We finance it and own and operate it,” Rittershausen explains. “Our customers just sign an agreement with us for their electricity over time. That way, customers avoid tapping into capital budgets while sharing in the cost savings.”

“Not only is the misconception about battery storage being “too expensive” a myth, but with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, tax incentives now add an additional 30% or more in savings — another major positive in the financial case for battery storage.”

Misconception #3. “Battery storage is only for utilities.”

The Reality: Utilities are not the only companies that can benefit from a battery storage or solar-plus-storage system. Distributed generation can be a solution for many C&I businesses. “Don’t imagine it as an abstract, as a giant power plant in the middle of nowhere,” Rittershausen says. “You can access renewable energy with battery storage on-site at the location you need it – for example, at the plant/facility level, often on unused, adjacent land). That’s called distributed generation, and it can solve the problem of high utility bills and the risk of power interruptions.”

Misconception #4. “Battery storage must be bundled with renewable energy.”

The Reality: Battery storage does not have to rely on onsite renewables integration. While battery storage coupled with on-site solar can be a powerful business case, storage alone can solve peak-load challenges that lead to high utility bills.

“If you have a piece of expensive infrastructure which is being overloaded in the summertime, you can install a battery, charge it at night when charges are low, and discharge it during peak-demand times,” Rittershausen says. “You’re charging from the grid, so there’s no new energy creation, you’re just shifting the time that you’re drawing on it.”

Misconception #5. “Battery storage is not for me … yet.”

The Reality: Battery storage can be a win for everybody so the opportunity, financial, and civic costs of waiting do not add up. Businesses that rely on either battery storage or solar-plus-storage solution can save money and reduce their carbon footprints today. In addition, reliability is improved because dependence on the grid is lessened.

Stakeholders, increasingly concerned about climate change risk, win because battery storage reduces those risks. And businesses gain a stronger CSR story to tell. There’s no reason to wait to realize these benefits.

Last but not least, society wins because more battery storage and solar-plus-storage helps us accelerate the clean energy transition and our climate change goals.

“Do you want your costs to go down?” Rittershausen asks. “To reduce your carbon profile? To leave the world a better place? Those are all good reasons why battery storage can be a win for anyone today. There’s an opportunity cost to deferring your battery storage or solar-plus-storage solution.”

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