Extreme Distributed Resources
What if utility customers could have the benefits of home energy storage for free? No more losing internet access, risking a fire by using candles for light, resetting those pesky clocks or worrying about defrosting food during short outages.
Unless you are a well-to-do early adopter, home storage systems like Tesla and Sonnen are too expensive to consider. An alternative to these systems is what I’m calling, “extreme distributed resources,” which are small (100 Wh to 1kWh) circuit-level, communicating, intelligent storage units. One company taking this approach is Hygge Power, a start-up developing a unit (the “OPO”) which plugs directly into a wall socket and provides power to a single home circuit.
The “free” concept comes from the quick pay back, both for the homeowner and local utility. In the business model Hygge is pursuing, the consumer will receive the units at no cost while the utility will be able to pay for them and recoup the cost through load management, increased customer satisfaction, DR verification, and the potential new avenue for customer engagement and value added services like security and home monitoring.
The units are envisioned to cost less far less than the standalone units currently on the market with payback in a couple of years. When TOU rates become prevalent, everyone will want access to some ability to load shift. Because they are low-cost and portable, this type of unit could open up energy storage to low-income populations and renters, even if the local utility does not provide them for free. And, because they are circuit level, customers can define their own, “critical loads,” and buy just enough storage to meet their particular needs.
In addition to storage benefits, the OPO unit provides smart home functions (like monitoring and controlling loads), reduces vampire energy drain, and surge protection.
Pushing distributed energy resources to the building circuit level is an approach worth looking into as the next step in the distributed grid.