Energy storage startup Stem is building out a battery network to store energy produced during the day, so people can power their homes at night

There's a lot that goes on behind the scenes to keep power running throughout a city, such as ensuring there's enough power supply in certain areas and understanding the peak times. To help cope with unforeseen shortfalls of power in 2014 for the Brooklyn-Queens network, Con Edison, New York City's utility network, held an auction to determine a suitable company to help provide energy storage.

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A power supply company has to know how to handle a city's power demands at all times of the day. This means knowing both the peak hours and the quieter hours. Peak hours normally include times of the day when electricity demand has reached its highest, like a hot summer day in the middle of the afternoon when customers have their air conditioners running. During the night time, energy companies can expect a lower electricity demand, which is a problem for a lot of energy substations.

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Despite a lower amount of electricity being generated, the substation has to continue running at the same peak level as turning those power supply stations off and on isn't cost effective. It would have cost Con Edison $1.2 billion to create a substation to accommodate this. Instead, the company chose to invest in energy storage with an auction. One of the winning bidders was Stem, an energy storage startup based in Millbrae, California, that helped knock the price down to $200 million.

Stem typically works in California and Hawaii, but with more locations demanding efficient methods to handle electricity, they've begun to branch out. The system Stem uses features an electric grid hook up to large-scale lithium ion batteries where the substations feed electricity into these batteries during the times energy hits its cheapest, such as in the middle of the night when not many people require electricity. The excess power goes into these batteries to then be used during the peak hours, making the electricity cheaper for all customers in the system.

The main driving force behind Stem was to help make sustainable energies more effective. Stem works out of California because the state had a large problem implementing the renewable energies it was sourcing from solar panels. The solar panels would only work well in the afternoons, but during the late evenings electricity companies were forced to use unsustainable energy sources.

With Stem reaching out to other states beyond California and Hawaii, there's promise for more energy companies to discuss the use of additional sustainable energy grids as the power source becomes easier to store.

Stem

There's a lot that goes on behind the scenes to keep power running throughout a city, such as ensuring there's enough power supply in certain areas and understanding the peak times. To help cope with unforeseen shortfalls of power in 2014 for the Brooklyn-Queens network, Con Edison, New York City's utility network, held an auction to determine a suitable company to help provide energy storage.

A power supply company has to know how to handle a city's power demands at all times of the day. This means knowing both the peak hours and the quieter hours. Peak hours normally include times of the day when electricity demand has reached its highest, like a hot summer day in the middle of the afternoon when customers have their air conditioners running. During the night time, energy companies can expect a lower electricity demand, which is a problem for a lot of energy substations.