Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Battery Breakthrough for Blacksburg Company; Expands Facility

Power Hub Systems, a start-up in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg , is providing a new version of battery electric storage in one of the nation’s largest municipal solar projects.In February the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) installed the first bi-directional storage battery system developed by PowerHub.

Meanwhile, PowerHub is expanding its headquarters in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center to 2,800 square-feet in Research Building VII.

These bi-directional battery storage units add significant value and viability to large-scale solar electricity systems. The power storage systems, referred to as Community Energy Storage (CES), can store either solar or other grid-generated electricity until it is required either in the local neighborhood or by the grid.

“The ‘always-on or always-available’ nature of electric power is fundamental to its success over the last century. Homeowners simply expect the power to be ready when they hit the switch. But solar power is dependent on the sun, which is not always available. Our new energy storage system make solar more viable for large-scale utility use,” says Glenn Skutt, president of Power Hub.

This concept, either storing power or providing power, is essential to the implementation of “Smart Grid” technology, which allows the integration of renewable energy into the nation’s power grid and greater operating flexibility to utilities in their delivery of electrical power.

“Our competitive advantage is that we have developed a system from the ground up with unique control technology that allows the units to supply power to the neighborhood circuit without disturbing the power quality and makes them quickly responsive to utility commands,” saysJack Lesko, PowerHub VP for engineering and business development.

This bidirectional battery storage system, PowerHub’s most significant technology project to date, came about in 2009 when the company teamed with GridPoint, an established leader in smart energy solutions, to develop the storage units and integrate the CES appliances into GridPoint’s energy management console for grid monitoring and control.

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