Eric Clifton, Founder and CEO How much difference can a decade make?
During the last quarter of 2019, we had seen social media beaming with countless #10yearchallenge photos and memes. A fun and light-hearted game, the picture collages were exemplary of the fact how one has aged, or, in many cases, miraculously not aged!
What happens when we try considering this same exercise as a ‘barometer of change’ for the energy storage sector? In 2010, batteries powered our phones and computers. By the end of the decade, they have started powering our cars and houses too. The next step, and what will define the next decade, is utility-scale, but highly distributed storage!
The Result: The Dawn of Smart Energy Storage Solutions
Right now, the COVID-19-stricken world is going through its ultimate stress test. The crisis is forcing businesses to shift their gears into survival mode, thereby bringing the work-from-home culture to the foreground. And, as the immediacy of the pandemic continues to remain ever more apparent, the uninterrupted power supply is emerging as one of the global essentials to keep the world running. The terms, ‘self-preservation, self-services, and resiliency’ are not just mere words of motivation; they hold the key to transitioning to a sustainable world.
“Our self-installable low-cost energy storage solution ensures security and self-sufficiency for consumers”
Enter Orison. Based out of Cody, WY, Orison has carved a niche for itself at the intersection of renewable energy, smart storage, and artificial intelligence to provide cloud-based personal energy storage solutions to equip consumers with resilient shelter-in-place options. The company has developed the world’s first self-installable home battery system powerful enough to cover the needs of a simple medical device all the way up to complete needs of a home, including large-scale appliances like refrigerators. The energy storage solution meets the needs of the consumers by deploying a grid-scale solution that offers users control over their power supply and ensures peace of mind. “Our self-installable low-cost energy storage solution ensures security and self-sufficiency for consumers, staying in individual houses or even apartments,” highlights Eric Clifton, the founder and CEO of Orison.
Not Your Usual Home Generators
Unlike the bulky personal generators that require high transportation costs, Orison’s lightweight energy storage solutions can be mailed directly to consumers. The solution comes in two components: the energy storage Orison Panel and its Orison Energy Monitor supporting hardware. The energy monitor that comprises of stick-on sensors and control/communication unit can be installed indoors on the face of existing circuit breakers, without utility approvals and construction or electrical permits.
After installing and setting up the complete storage solution, users can plug the entire system in, and Orison storage automatically starts working. As these devices are IoT-enabled, users can monitor their unit’s activities, track energy savings, and receive blackout notifications through mobile applications all while having peace of mind that Orison storage is automatically managing daily activities to best align with efficient operation, utility rates and solar. For solar-powered houses, the smart energy storage solution can include information on solar energy production in real-time and make use of the decision-making algorithms to create an optimal charge/discharge schedule. Orison further uses negative demand at the customer site to support grid services instead of exporting electricity back to the grid.
Our goal is to make a first-of-its-kind economical product that actually creates an entire upstream value
To add to that, these easily wall-mounted energy storage solutions can leverage IoT connectivity to collect data, like utility rates, peak demand charges, weather reports, blackout alerts, and usage profiles, to determine the optimal operating schedule for the device and make the grid more efficient. And, considering the fact that many cities are now following a time-of-use rate structure, these storage solutions can store electricity when the rate is low and then discharge power when electricity is in high demand. Besides, the cloud connectivity allows Orison to monitor the performance and health of the battery packs continually. The company can, therefore, alert users if the battery pack requires any replacement.
What’s more? The storage solution is expandable through supplemental panels called Orison Panel+. The more units consumers add, the more resilient their power becomes. Users can expand their storage capacity on that circuit by plugging one or more Orison Panel+ into the Orison Panel if they have a greater demand on a single circuit. They can add up to five Panel+ units to an Orison Panel device for a maximum storage capacity of 13.2kWh per primary device. Clifton adds, “With such capabilities, our cloud-operated, self-installable, energy storage solution is poised to bring forth smart grid infrastructures for a smarter energy world.”
Orison Cloud = Utility Control + Consumer Collaboration
In addition to consumers, the smart energy storage solution offers a necessary facelift to the utility sector as well, enabling utility companies to have better grid services on a broader, more mass-adoptable platform. Orison empowers utilities and energy retailers with flexible fleet control tools to improve grid resilience and manage peak loads at the lowest entry cost point in the market. The company sets the foundation for a self-healing grid by embedding a network of IoT-based, cloud-controlled, distributed energy resources close to the demand centers. Clifton notes, “This can be achieved in an orderly and scalable fashion without the need to replace or rebuild the current grid infrastructure.”
To achieve this, Orison monitors and mitigates every incremental spike in energy consumption on the customer side with the stored energy. The grid, as a result, only sees a smooth power demand coming from that particular consumer, thus reducing traffic on the distributed energy networks.
Additionally, utility companies don’t need to connect to each of the storage units; instead, they can connect directly to the cloud. The Orison platform can help utility companies shift to a flexible, data-driven electric grid and reach out to every consumer, including high-density housing spaces where renewable energy is not a prerequisite. Based on utilities’ requirements, Orison can offer an aggregated data set in a specific region, which can then be used to change the units’ work on the customer side of the meter. “Having full visibility and control even beyond the meter, utility companies can ensure if a grid is operating the way that it should, thereby reducing the cost burden on end-customer,” underscores Clifton.
A Proven Record of Expertise
What makes Orison cut above the rest is the value it can create for both consumers and utility companies. Instead of viewing power storage as an entity separate from the grid, Orison takes a unified approach. Clifton believes utility companies will be able to offer better services to consumers once Orison starts selling its aggregated grid services. The founder-CEO says, “Our goal is to make a first-of-its-kind economical product that actually creates an entire upstream value.” The idea of such a storage solution, notably, came from Clifton’s long tenures at the master plan development and community planning team of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). And through the ‘lens of Orison,’ he wanted to transform the existing grids into sustainable ones.
Nevertheless, his journey would not have been successful without the creative thinking of his team at Orison. The engineering team is innovative and capable of thinking outside the box. Every member is good at strategic and thorough thinking necessary to develop a safe solution. For example, many countries consider it illegal to open the meter panel. To counteract this restriction, Orison has invented patented sensors that adhere to the face of the breaker.
The Journey Ahead
Having already proven its capabilities in test cases across different labs, Orison is now set for a global launch of its first product line, with a specific focus on the Australian and the U.S. market. Simultaneously, Orison is moving ahead with its plans on global expansion by opening in different markets with its channel partners. Orison has also received a second round of grants from the Department of Energy and NREL that has helped the company work through a new funding plan. Leveraging this grant, Orison is now pushing to be more innovative with its product release as the launch date is being delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Our current plan is to launch a reservation campaign in the coming months for the initial deployment (estimated for delivery) in October; and North America, UK, EU and Australian markets will be the initial focus. The product, although, will be available in most countries by next year,” concludes Clifton.