Home Energy system Energy storage strategy: Enel X draws lessons from North America to the rest of the world

Energy storage strategy: Enel X draws lessons from North America to the rest of the world


A solar plus storage solution delivered for an industrial customer in the United States, thanks to Enel X’s partnership with the solar company Solect. Image: Enel X.

Battery storage has been helping businesses in the United States and Canada lower their electricity costs and meet their ESG goals, and has been doing so for a few years now.

A player in this market is Enel X, the subsidiary of the Enel Group focused on providing integrated solutions for commercial and industrial (C&I) customers to help them reduce their demand for grid energy at the most expensive peak times. (and often polluting). This often occurs in tandem with the installation of smaller-scale renewable energy installations, typically solar on-site or on the roof.

Enel X has expanded its presence in North America in recent years through its projects and the integration of market-specific knowledge and technologies through the acquisition of smart energy platform companies Demand Energy Networks, eMotorwerks and EnerNOC . While rival Engie recently split up and sold its battery storage subsidiary Engie EPS to Taiwan Cement Corporation, Enel X has gradually become part of its parent company’s business.

In an interview with Storage-Energie.news, David JA Post, Head of Enel X Battery Energy Storage Solutions, explains how energy storage for C&I customers can have maximum economic and environmental impact.

Post is the head of online storage solutions, manages Enel X’s storage activities and leads its efforts in deploying energy storage solutions to customers. He is also currently President of the European Association for Energy Storage (EASE).

Through the acquisition of Demand Energy Networks, the company has a large project footprint in New York and has since expanded its operations to other regions of North America including California, Massachusetts, Puerto Rico and Ontario, Canada.

Over 250 MWh of storage have been contracted, focusing, among other things, on helping customers minimize their electricity costs by reducing grid demand during peaks, or when electricity is most expensive, and earn payments by enrolling the storage system in demand response and other energy market programs.

Software is what really matters

In Ontario, for example, peak system events can account for about 60% or even 70% of an industrial user’s electricity bills, depending on the amount of energy consumed.

“These projects have grown. Initially we started with small projects, but as I guess the big industrial customers saw an advantage in that, the size of the projects increased. So initially it was maybe half a megawatt per project now we have some of the projects are even 10MW and above and you usually talk about large manufactures or large industrial processes, like a mining company or a mining company. food production, ”says Post.

Outside of Ontario, the business model may vary. Each of the regions of the United States in which Enel X operates has different revenue streams that battery storage can tap into depending on its market design and grid conditions. What matters, he says, is that the software provided by Enel X is able to capture and monetize all the benefits that batteries can offer.

Enel X’s DER optimization software uses advanced machine learning techniques to understand a facility’s energy needs and automatically charge and discharge batteries at optimal times to deliver the best possible financial return, and without disrupting operations. of a client.

That could mean helping Massachusetts or California businesses, educational institutions and the like install rooftop solar panels with batteries, improve their sustainability game, and put in place specific solar and storage incentives. statewide, such as SMART in Massachusetts or SGIP in California. Or it could be deploying solar storage microgrids and generators in Puerto Rico or helping manage demand response in New York City.

In many of these cases, battery storage is part of a larger integrated solution to help customers manage their energy demand. Combining storage with on-site renewables and recharging electric vehicles is another example of a use case that presents a real opportunity, Post says.

“We’re also looking at other states, we’ve been involved in what we call dFTM solutions: distributed in metered solutions, typically with electric co-ops and munis (co-ops and municipal utilities),” Post said.

“It’s actually a very similar business model to a pure meter. Some states also face coincident peaks at the municipal or co-op level. We therefore participated in several calls for tenders for this.

Energy storage system installed by Enel X at the University of Massachusetts. Image: Enel X.

Stakeholder education is a priority in new markets

With its experience in North America, Enel X wants to start using this knowledge to enter new markets.

An example is Peru, where coincident peaks are measured on a monthly basis (in Ontario, five peaks in the summer period are taken into account). A battery energy storage system (BESS) can reduce these coincident peaks and Post says Enel X is pleased with the interest generated by industrial customers in Peru, where the company is starting out with a project small enough for a manufacturer of plastic kitchen utensils.

“Right now we have almost a 30MW line of sight of projects in Peru, which is a small number for the big renewables world, but for the C&I world it’s starting to become a relevant number. , and there are all big names behind it. “

In Australia, Enel X has a few projects in the works. The volatility of electricity prices in Australia makes it a “very interesting market”, and with the right software in place, there are up to four available revenue streams that can be captured with a BESS.

“We are also looking at the markets in Europe. From Enel X’s perspective, we usually try to explore historic markets where we already are first, simply because it facilitates dialogue with local stakeholders. If you go to a market like Peru or Chile, where you have already been present for 20 years, the regulator knows Enel well as a group and we are simply more comfortable with the general legal and regulatory framework and the way things work. . “

Projects are growing, more and more markets are opening up, the future looks bright for C&I energy storage, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Whether C&I energy storage will be recognized as having as much of a role to play as upstream storage in the energy transition ultimately depends on regulators and grid operators, in a way.

“The general thing that we come across is usually, the question is, as a network operator: do you want to go to FTM on a large scale, or do you want to go on a smaller scale or a combination?”

Post says the network needs a combination of the two and that the deployment of C&I can help the rest of the network become much more sustainable, in many different markets around the world. The role of resilience that solar and storage can play is also increasingly recognized.

As extreme weather events increase in intensity and frequency, companies are examining their operational resilience. Microgrids or solar systems with storage can support this and help businesses keep operating even after major storms, for example.

“Right now, the market is still in a phase where you need to educate both regulatory and political stakeholders as well as customers on the benefits of these solutions. But more and more, we are starting to see customers feel comfortable with the concept of installing this type of solution in their premises.

“It’s about making the customer comfortable with the business model, also trying to provide flexible financing options. We try to offer the client a suite of different types of financial options, whether it is selling them a facility, and we provide O&M and software management, for a joint investment, by entering into a lease agreement ” , he said.

“We have found different solutions with the ambition to be the trusted energy partner of C&I customers.