EEStor Joining Other Energy Storage Startups on the Grid

EEStor, maker of the supposedly killer energy storage device, might soon plug its “electrical energy storage unit” (EESU) into the grid to help solve renewable energy’s intermittent power generation problem of when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. MIT Technology Review reports that the stealthy Austin, Texas-based startup is in “serious talks” with potential solar and wind energy partners to help boost grid capacity by providing utility-scale electricity storage. But before EEStor puts its EESUs on the grid it will have start making them and CEO Dick Weir has said production will start by the end of 2009.

EEStor joins AltairNano and A123 Systems as startups looking to connect their energy storage devices to the grid. The idea is that large capacity, fast-charging storage devices could sit on the grid, storing and providing energy to the grid as necessary. Excess energy generated at night could be stored and then used during the day during peak demand. Large, static storage devices could allow operators more flexibility and help renewable energy offer a stable base load. Weir claims that by partnering with wind and solar energy producers, EEStor could put 45 percent more energy on the grid.

AltairNano is developing ceramic lithium-ion batteries with nano-structured materials that allow for large amounts of surface area for fast charging. AltairNano’s new CEO Terry Copeland told us earlier this summer that the startup had successfully charged and discharged two megawatts of power to the grid in 30 minutes from one of their batteries in a partnership with AES.

Battery darling A123 Systems said in June it is already working with its investor General Electric to use its lithium-ion batteries for “grid stabilization.” Ric Fulop, founder and vice president of business development, said on a panel of energy storage experts organized by the New England Clean Energy Council that the battery technology is already there. “Now it’s a question of building the systems. Megawatt-level systems are all about systems integration.”

EEStor has a long way to go before it tackles systems integration. The startup just had its materials verified for purity and consistency, a necessary step, but far off from a working EESU. “I’m not going to make claims on when we’re going to get product out there,” Weir Told MIT Tech Review unapologetically. “That’s between me and the customer. I don’t want to tell the industry.”