The Energy Storage Association (ESA) knows the U.S. power sector is in the midst of profound transformation and envisions a path to 100 GW of new energy storage in the next decade. Based on an exploration of their original 35×25 Vision report, experts’ growth projections, and the impact of accelerating the clean energy transformation of the U.S. electricity grid, they predict the industry will see 100 GW of new energy storage systems in the U.S. by 2030. In this blog, ESA asks Stem CTO Larsh Johnson to comment on the advancements software will need to undergo to reach that goal and how Stem is providing Athena energy storage services to help get there.
“From day one, our focus has been scaling low-carbon solutions. Through our Athena® AI-driven smart energy software and our partnerships, we are working to create a reliable, clean power infrastructure that works for everyone.” – Larsh Johnson, Stem CTO
What advancements are needed in software capabilities / functionality to reach the goal of 100GW by 2030?
With the rise of renewables and distributed generation and the decline in fossil fuels — our electrical system is undergoing radical transformations in the way we generate, distribute, store, and consume energy. On an increasingly complex and decentralized clean energy grid, the sheer number of decisions will far exceed both human and conventional digital automation capabilities.
The need for software automation is obvious – there’s already automation on today’s grid – but automation can only go so far. To achieve the goal of 100GW by 2030, the future grid must be clean, resilient, dynamic, and smart – what we call the “fast and flexible” grid. Software’s capabilities in prediction, optimization, and control will allow that fast, flexible grid to function.
Software must be able to generate forecasts for key factors including weather, renewable energy generation, customer demand, and market prices. These forecasts, and learning from predicted vs. actual outcomes, will enable the optimization of every resource on the grid for every moment of the day. It will also enable anomaly detection and instantly respond when new automation strategies are needed. Orchestrating a fully decarbonized economy – with hundreds of millions of vehicles and devices, all powered by variable renewables – is exactly the kind of challenge software with artificial intelligence (AI) is uniquely equipped to solve.
Fully enabling a “fast, flexible” future grid and maximizing its benefits will require AI-driven software. AI enables software to learn, solve problems, and make decisions based on huge amounts of data with minimal human oversight. AI also adapts to dynamic conditions, enabling insights, efficiencies, and real-time optimization that otherwise would be impossible. AI-driven software has the ability to learn, solve problems, and make decisions based on huge amounts of data with minimal human oversight. It also adapts to dynamic conditions, enabling insights, efficiencies, and real-time optimization that otherwise would be impossible.
Ultimately, AI-driven software will transform the grid from an aging supplier of commodity electricity to an intelligent “system of systems” that produces optimized outcomes. Maximizing emissions reductions, time-matching clean energy generation, and optimizing costs will depend as much on distributed intelligence as it will on clean distributed energy resources.
How is your company providing/supporting the development of software to meet this goal?
Stem’s Athena® AI-driven smart energy software uses machine learning algorithms to generate multiple forecasts – about weather, prices, solar generation, energy demand, and other factors – and analyze how energy assets can capture value at different times. Athena then formulates a strategy for maximizing that value and implements it in a variety of ways: by bidding assets into wholesale markets, charging and discharging batteries, injecting solar energy into the grid or storing it for later, and allowing EVs to charge now or overnight. And because Athena constantly monitors system performance, it adjusts to changing circumstances in real time.
Stem tunes Athena’s algorithms according to each customer’s priorities and goals, whether it’s an independent power producer’s bidding strategy in a wholesale market, or a water district’s need for backup power, or a facility’s goal to reduce GHG emissions. From there, Athena uniquely automates everything that’s involved with maximizing asset performance and ROI, including interfacing with wholesale markets and utilities, integrating and optimizing various assets and value streams, and complying with incentive and warranty requirements.
Regardless of a project’s type or location, Athena leverages the same machine learning algorithms that have delivered industry-leading performance for over a decade. And with deep insights gained from tens of millions of system runtime hours, Athena’s continuous improvement translates into more value for Stem’s customers and partners.
We have the technology to decarbonize — to create an accessible, affordable, reliable, clean, and healthy power infrastructure. Stem is committed to delivering the cost-savings and reliability necessary to incentivize the rapid, system-wide energy transition we all need and deserve.
Athena is Stem’s software platform built to seamlessly integrate and optimize energy resources. By sitting in between distributed energy resources, the utility, and grid controls, Athena makes it easy to maximize energy asset performance and investments. Here are some of Stem’s recent projects that highlight how Athena leverages best-in-class data engineering, forecasting, and optimization to maximize ROI and performance for our customers & partners…
Piloting Stem’s Athena® Smart Energy Software to Support EV Charging
Stem is working with Penske Truck Leasing to pilot Athena smart energy storage software and operate a 350 kW / 800 kWh battery system at heavy-duty truck charging positions in Ontario, California. Since starting the pilot, Athena has driven a 40% decrease in Penske’s site peak energy consumption. Read more here.
Customizing Stem’s Athena® Smart Energy Software for Electric Cooperatives
Stem is working with Ameresco to leverage Athena smart energy storage software at a 5MW solar PV project with 15MWh of battery energy storage for Holy Cross Energy (HCE) in Western Colorado. Athena empowers Ameresco and HCE to monitor and manage the project and to achieve the project’s “100×30” goal and reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 7,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. Read more here.
Using Stem’s Athena® Smart Energy Software to improve Storage Portfolio Performance by 30%
Electrodes Holdings LLC chose Stem to onboard 345MWh of distributed energy storage capacity for a portfolio serving 25 large commercial and municipal customers and serve as a virtual power plant in Southern California. Within two months, Stem’s Athena smart energy storage software provided the intelligence to optimize them in real time and realize more than 30% greater monthly energy savings compared to the previous software provider. Read more here.