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Silver Spring company launches solar storage system

Solar Grid Storage recently launched its advanced solar energy storage system at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. The Silver Spring company’s battery energy storage system is designed to improve the quality and reliability of the electric grid at the new GridSTAR Smart Grid Experience Center.

Pennsylvania State University, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, state of Pennsylvania and federal Department of Energy are developing the approximately $10 million center at the Navy Yard, a 1,200-acre complex of offices, manufacturing and research facilities.

The privately-owned Solar Grid was founded in 2011 with $3 million from angel investors. It has offices in Philadelphia and in the Silver Spring Innovation Center and a total of nine employees between the two.
Thomas Leyden, Solar Grid's CEO, says the company expects to add another nine employees within a year, in sales, engineering and project management. He also expects to reach $100 million in revenue by 2017.
The center is intended to illustrate the functioning of smart grid technology. Solar Grid will help to manage the system in order to demonstrate the economic viability of solar energy storage.
Leyden says the Smart Grid Center represents the next stage in the utility industry from large central power plants to smaller distributed generation.
“Solar power is cheaper than building a big power plant,” he says, and while “environment drives the interest, it’s all about the money.”
A problem for the solar and wind industries is storage of these natural, but intermittent, resources. “The challenge for electric grid operators is to keep the grid stable,” says Leyden, whose company uses an advanced energy battery to do so.
Solar Grid provides hardware and software to bring power from solar panels to the building, which is connected to the electric grid. Solar Grid’s technology converts solar power to electrical kilowatt-hours, for use and storage. “If he power goes down, they can continue operating with stored solar,” says Leyden.
Solar Grid’s primary focus is commercial customers, but it also works with utilities and municipal governments. Among its customers are a school system in New Jersey and a utility in North Carolina. It partnered with Standard Solar Inc. on the installation of a solar system at the Konterra Realty Corporation that opened last month.
He says grid operators like PJM, a regional transmission organization, pay Solar Grid an installation fee and a monthly fee based on the hourly market rate of access to its battery system.
Leyden says the company is currently in talks with utilities in the Maryland-Washington, D.C. area on solar storage. He declined to identify them but the major operators in the District are Pepco and Washington Gas.

Read more articles by Barbara Pash.

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