Energy Storage News – US Government Contracts Proving the Case for Batteries: Ameresco Federal Solutions
Helping businesses and community facilities in the US and in the UK to manage their energy use and save on energy costs using energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions, Ameresco has been going since the beginning of the 21st Century. The company assesses a customer’s energy needs, what energy resources are available to them, and then designs a solution to help them reduce energy use, use energy more efficiently, or increase generation available to them, often in the form of renewable energy.
Batteries are an increasingly important part of that equation. Ameresco has worked for a long time with US federal government agencies, installing new solutions or retrofitting and upgrading energy systems for the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency and many others. These can be among the more demanding projects technologically, due to their critical, must-run status and they must be amongst the most economically lean — under things like the Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) programme, projects that can prove they will pay for themselves through energy costs saved can get funding, including through third-party financing.
Energy-storage.news speaks with Ameresco executive VP and general manager, at its Federal Solutions division, Nicole Bulgarino, who tells us about why this type of project can play such a critical role in proving the case for smart energy solutions that include battery storage. Bulgarino has overseen more than US$2 billion worth of federal projects in her time at the company. We also hear about what sort of technologies and design can meet the demands of federal customers, from the value of resiliency to the ability to raise revenues and save costs.
It’s been really interesting to look at what companies like Ameresco have done for the Department of Defense, where projects can only get done if they provide a certain level of savings, and be economically efficient as well as energy efficient. Is that an accurate way to look at this type of project and what role does battery storage play in all of that?
The good news is, when you’re looking at the Department of Defense, there is a strong desire and more budget being allocated to do projects that have a resiliency component to them, where the battery will be key to that in the microgrid — especially for a lot of these sites that have existing generation assets, such as a cogeneration system, or solar [or] wind. We’re seeing a lot of projects get recommended for funding to go back and add that battery storage component.
Also, we are seeing in a lot of our larger projects — where we’re doing these comprehensive projects [with criteria like] meeting a certain return, or cash flow — we’re seeing more ability by the [military] base to maybe count some of the maintenance savings, where there might be a different savings stream or savings value, where they might be able to retire diesel generators, and more openness and support to not only do energy efficiency, but also grow onsite generation in a way that provides that resiliency element or reliability. Being able to have a system that can be able to come online because their system is not as dependable with the grid. The best way to do that technology-wise, is with the battery.
We’ve come a long way in a short time from the overall perspective of the DoD and in their recent Defence Authorisation Act, there is language in there that also encourages using creative third-party financing streams and other incentives to help make sure that our bases are protected from a security standpoint.
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By: Andy Colthorpe