Oregon Wants Clean Energy? Hello Demand Response + Energy Storage

The Pacific Northwest is highly reliant on renewable energy and this dependency is not letting up. The region’s proximity to the Columbia River makes them especially reliant on hydroelectricity. The region’s clean energy initiatives are a great step towards the goal of 100% reliability on clean energy, but renewable energy is still intermittent. The extreme temperatures and other natural events such as wildfires and droughts make renewable energy less consistent and put increased stress on the grid.

In June 2021, Oregon passed a bill to aim for 100% clean energy by 2040. One of the largest utilities in the area, Portland General Electric (PGE), and others have their work cut out to reach this goal. Although Oregon works a lot with hydro power, solar and wind are not its strong suits. The climates in California and Montana are more suitable for solar and wind power, respectively. As a result, energy from those sources is carried to Oregon via transmission lines. The region will likely need more transmission lines if it is to reach its goal, but besides this hurdle, Oregon utilities will need to increase their use of demand response, distributed energy resources (DERs) like batteries, and other solutions in order to reach the goal. The region already has a strong start in terms of energy storage solutions, and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories (PNNL) announced plans in March 2021 to construct a new facility to focus on clean energy and energy storage. However, demand response is not as prevalent in the area.

Last week, Virtual Peaker and ENEL X formed a partnership that will help bring more demand response solutions to regions like the Pacific Northwest. The two companies bring a lot to the table and may be exactly what the region needs. ENEL X is currently the second largest company in the demand response sector with 164 patent assets relating to consumer devices and methods of demand response, while Virtual Peaker is relatively new to the sector with seven patent assets relating to methods of demand response. With Oregon already having a strong foundation in renewable energy and energy storage, ENEL X’s demand response solutions and Virtual Peaker’s leading distributed energy platform will be a great help in reaching the state’s goal and could even point demand response solutions in a new direction.

Although batteries and other long duration energy storage solutions are usually seen as key components of renewable energy, they are also important to demand response. Energy storage systems can help to balance energy supply and demand. Excess energy is stored when too much is generated and supplied when demand increases. The combination of demand response in the Pacific Northwest and the region’s strength on the energy storage and renewables front could change the way demand response is approached in other areas of the country. Provided the results are positive in Oregon, it is likely that utilities and other companies in the demand response sector will invest in, partner with, or acquire energy storage companies to meet grid needs and assist with current demand response initiatives.

One energy storage company to keep an eye on is Form Energy. Last week, Form Energy made public the specifics on its long duration energy storage solution which is set to be built in Minnesota. The company is currently in a $200M series D funding round led by ArcelorMittal’s XCarb innovation fund and has several patent assets relating to batteries and electrochemical cells. Form Energy is also backed by investors like Eni Next LLCMIT’s The EngineBreakthrough Energy VenturesPrelude VenturesCapricorn Investment Group, and Macquarie Capital.

Follow the Demand Response Patent Forecast® to find out if demand response takes on energy storage.