These behind-the-grid units, called Ice Bears, work by making ice at night when electric usage is minimal and then using that ice to cool air conditioners during peak electric usage hours. Ice Bears reportedly will reduce the air conditioners’ power usage by 10 kilowatts every day, and each unit will alleviate carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere by up to four tons every year.
Ice Energy won 16 contracts last year from Southern California Edison, the primary power supply in Southern California. The power supply company has resolved to develop 250 megawatts of new energy storage and granted new contracts to a number of different companies that specialize in energy storage. Ice Energy’s contract dictates that they must provide 25.6 megawatts of increase storage capacity.
They plan to begin installing this new green technology in July 2016, and to meet the demands of the contract, they will be installing 1,800 units. Ice Energy is responsible for manufacturing, finding people who want Ice Bears installed in their homes or businesses, installation itself, as well as maintenance.
Ice Bear is a start-up, but NRG Energy has stepped in as a financier for the project. They will pay for 100% of the project, though the cost has not yet been disclosed. NRG Energy will also assist in finding people interested in using Ice Bears and in marketing.
Southern California Edison has been encouraged to use both on- and off-the-grid energy sources since the closure of the San Onofre nuclear facility, which has put a strain on the abilities of their power plants. They also have several cooling plants they need to close due to age.
Air conditioning accounts for 30 to 40% of peak electric usage. They could also potentially benefit private customers by reducing their electricity bills.
Image (c) Ice Energy