Jason Dreisbach fields at the least half a dozen calls each week from individuals attempting to promote him a expertise to decrease his power prices. Because the proprietor of Dreisbach Enterprises, a cold-storage facility proprietor with operations in Northern California, he is a preferred goal. Chilly storage — from frozen meals warehouses to grocery and restaurant refrigeration — has one of many highest power prices of any trade; power expenditures are normally second solely to payroll.

Dreisbach endures gross sales pitches that run the gamut of power options, from LED lighting to rooftop photo voltaic to gas cells. When Viking Chilly Options reached out in 2017 with a thermal power storage expertise, his curiosity was piqued as a result of, though he had many questions, “it was not a international idea,” he stated. The battle in chilly storage will not be maintaining issues chilly, however slightly eradicating warmth. “We’re continually preventing [British thermal unit] intrusion,” Dreisbach defined. Viking Chilly provided one thing that aided within the battle.

Chilly storage services have lengthy been a goal for energy-efficiency and demand-response packages due to their intense power wants. And but, these ubiquitous services haven’t been absolutely tapped for his or her power financial savings or potential as versatile power assets. Some promising firms with mechanically complicated thermal power storage options concentrating on the industrial sectors, together with the chilly chain, have exited the enterprise or turned to software-based choices solely.

It’s a tricky promote to get any enterprise, particularly grocers or frozen-food warehouses, to surrender invaluable sq. footage for any power storage answer, or to place their clients’ merchandise in jeopardy to save lots of on prices. Due to this, Viking Chilly has discovered that a lot of its potential shoppers have had restricted success with demand-management participation. And till just lately, most utilities haven’t actively sought out long-duration power storage as a part of their grid flexibility portfolio. Now, that’s all altering.

An enormous goal, simply missed

Viking Chilly Options didn’t got down to develop a expertise for utilities to faucet as a grid useful resource. Its founder merely wished to maneuver extra frozen meals extra effectively between Jacksonville, Florida and Puerto Rico for shoppers akin to Sam’s Membership. The patented answer leverages thermal power storage to the good thing about frozen-food storage suppliers and utilities.

In easy phrases, all thermal power options contain the heating or chilling of water or one other medium, which is then used to shift power hundreds. Within the case of Viking Chilly’s expertise, it additionally improves effectivity. Thermal power storage is presently a small however rising portion of the behind-the-meter power storage market, based on Wooden Mackenzie’s power storage analysts.

Supply: Wooden Mackenzie Energy & Renewables

Viking Chilly’s expertise for frozen-food warehouses seems to be like a radiator that sits atop the frozen-food racking. It’s manufactured from sealed plastic bottles crammed with water and hydrated salt options that act as a phase-change materials to soak up warmth infiltration contained in the freezers. There aren’t any mechanical system elements, however the phase-change materials is paired with an intelligence platform that optimizes temperatures and power use and interfaces with practically any constructing or warehouse administration system.

“With our expertise, we primarily deal with the phase-change materials like a thermal battery,” stated James Bell, president and CEO of Viking Chilly Options. “We all know exactly how a lot power is in there. Previous to thermal power storage, individuals had simply guessed.” He additional famous that energy-saving practices for this sector have historically used the meals or the constructing because the energy-storage medium, “however now now we have one thing particularly designed for power storage that’s protected for each meals and the surroundings.” The programs can ship over 12 hours of load-shifting whereas enhancing refrigeration effectivity a mean of 25 p.c.

Born in Florida, coming of age in California

Dreisbach Enterprises and San Diego Meals Financial institution are two of the California-based operations which have invested in Viking Chilly’s expertise to run their operations extra effectively. In thermal power storage, they’ve discovered a robust long-duration storage answer that helps them do every little thing from integrating renewables extra profitably to rising resiliency throughout energy disruptions, in addition to taking part in a number of utility packages in methods they couldn’t earlier than. Viking Chilly is an authorized undertaking developer in California’s Self-Technology Incentive Program, which offers funds for behind-the-meter power storage deployments.

The common cold-storage warehouse has roughly 1 megawatt of power storage potential, based on Viking Chilly. Within the case of Dreisbach Enterprises, in 2017 it put in the expertise in a portion of one in every of its 100,000-square-foot Northern California services, which now reduces practically half a megawatt of freezer load for 13 hours day-after-day. Previous to the set up, Dreisbach used the standard cold-storage trade follow often known as flywheeling (additionally known as floating), which consists of sub-cooling the meals after which shutting off refrigeration programs throughout the costly six-hour peak demand-charge interval.

“What Viking Chilly has allowed us to do is [to avoid] sub-cooling to the diploma that we had, after which trip it out for for much longer,” stated Dreisbach. “As a substitute of six hours, we trip 12 or 13 hours, six days per week, with out turning on our extra main compressors.” The result’s a 22-month payback interval as an alternative of 36. There have been different advantages: It’s merely not as uncomfortable within the warehouse when staff are working as a result of the followers are blowing much less; operations and upkeep wants and prices have been diminished, and through a current 24-hour outage brought on by a close-by Pacific Gasoline & Electrical transformer, temperatures rose solely about 5 levels, stated Dreisbach, in comparison with the rise of roughly 15 levels that might have occurred with out Viking Chilly’s thermal power storage (TES) expertise.

San Diego Meals Financial institution’s TES system has allowed the group to primarily shut down compressors in a single day and leverage its onsite photo voltaic array to energy extra of the refrigeration throughout the day. The power has additionally diminished its morning peak, which happens earlier than the photo voltaic array is producing power, by about 12 kilowatts. The general power financial savings have amounted to just about 40 p.c.

San Diego Meals Financial institution was in a position to shift its runtime to higher leverage its photo voltaic era and get rid of 95% of in a single day grid-sourced refrigeration load. (Supply: Viking Chilly Options)

A distributed power useful resource for the taking

Whereas thermal power storage has been out there for a very long time in varied types, the present juncture appears notably effectively suited to the answer. Lithium-ion batteries, which dominate the power storage market, provide about two hours of storage for utilities to faucet. For heavy refrigeration hundreds, Viking Chilly has discovered lithium-ion batteries are neither possible nor economical when in comparison with its TES, which has a levelized price of power of lower than $zero.02 per kilowatt-hour.

On the identical time, the necessity to incentivize load-shifting takes on new significance as intermittent wind and photo voltaic are quickly added to the grid, and as peak mitigation more and more turns into a spotlight as utilities look to displace inefficient peaker crops. Regulators are extra steadily tasking utilities with offering “all-of-the-above” useful resource plans that embody a variety of distributed power assets, power storage specifically. Lastly, utilities are in search of alternatives to be proactive with value-added companies for his or her largest clients to forestall them from defecting.

Viking Chilly’s expertise can deal with these various utility challenges, however it’s typically nonetheless seen via an effectivity lens. That’s positive with Bell, who says the corporate is targeted initially on serving its cold-chain clients. That’s an vital distinction, as another promising thermal power suppliers have prioritized chasing utility and municipal contracts slightly than specializing in end-use clients. If Viking Chilly may work with power suppliers, the corporate sees that as icing on the cake.

“A 12 months or two in the past, we had possibly one or two utilities that had incentives for us,” stated Collin Coker, VP of gross sales and advertising at Viking Chilly Options. “Now now we have dozens.” The very nature of these incentives can also be evolving. A big, investor-owned Midwestern utility is constructing a program that may incentivize the storage capability of TES programs like Viking Chilly’s.

“General, the thermal power storage vendor ecosystem isn’t crowded right this moment, however may even see extra competitors as extra utilities embody incentives for this expertise and clients understand the worth proposition provided by TES,” Wooden Mackenzie analysts famous in a 2019 Power Storage Monitor report.

Up to now 12 months, Viking Chilly has discovered that each utilities and cold-storage firms are approaching the corporate with their challenges, slightly than merely hoping somebody like Dreisbach returns the gross sales group’s calls. “Down the street, I see this trying like insulation did 100 years in the past,” stated Bell.

“Now you wouldn’t even take into account a constructing with out insulation. Going ahead, why would anybody construct a temperature-controlled facility with out the effectivity and resiliency of TES?”

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