Air conditioners use a ton of energy and when everyone has their’s running the load on the power grid can be pushed to the limit. At night, when it’s generally cooler, the power grid isn’t being used nearly as much. A company called Ice Energy is using that extra night time capacity to make ice, which is then used to cool buildings as a compliment to exiting AC setups.
The building owner gets cheaper power, and the utility gets a solution to its peak power problems, said Mike Hopkins, executive vice president of corporate development. That all comes at a cost of roughly $2,200 per kilowatt of installed capacity, a figure that’s quite competitive with other forms of distributed energy storage, he said.
It’s a growing business. Ice Energy is now roughly halfway through fulfilling the 53 megawatts of Ice Bear units it has contracted to provide its biggest customer, the Southern California Public Power Authority, which buys power for municipal utilities around the SoCal region. That relationship also led the company to relocate from Windsor, Colo. to Glendale, Calif. last month, and to decide to focus on California as its key market, Hopkins said.