Christina Lampe-Onnerud, the founder and CEO of Danbury-based Cadenza Innovation, doesn’t hesitate when asked if the company’s batteries could play a role in fighting climate change.
“Yes — 100 percent, absolutely,” says the former chief executive of battery manufacturer Boston-Power Inc., who launched Cadenza in 2012.
The company has developed and is beginning to manufacture lithium-ion battery systems that can be used to power buildings and vehicles.
Cadenza’s rechargeable batteries don’t produce their own energy. They are connected to other energy sources or generators, such as coal, gas, hydro, wind or solar, and then store that power for later use, such as during weather-related outages or peak energy usage times.
“By storing electrical energy and tying it to our Cadenza Cloud solutions, the Cadenza battery systems can provide our customers with services such as automated backup, peak shaving, load-shifting, time-of-use, and demand response,” Lampe-Onnerud said.
Customers also can see their energy usage via real-time data.
Cadenza has garnered funding from private investors and government entities, such as the U.S. Department of Energy, and the states of New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
It’s currently in the midst of a “significant” fundraising effort as it begins to ramp up production, according to Lampe-Onnerud, who declined to share further financial information.
Cadenza this year started taking battery orders and making customer installations. The company has grown to about 20 employees, Lampe-Onnerud said, though about 200 people are engaged with it via partnerships.
Confronting cost, safety concerns
Lampe-Onnerud said safety, specifically reducing the risk of fires in connection with Lithium-ion batteries, was key to making Cadenza’s technology work on a larger scale.
The company’s products, she said, have eliminated the thermal propagation behind fires and explosions in legacy lithium-ion systems, while still providing high performance.
Lithium-ion batteries are common in cell phones, but are small. Cadenza is developing batteries that come in much larger sizes, and can be used to provide power to cars and buildings.
The batteries can be installed throughout a building to provide power — in spaces such as a power utility closet or on a rooftop. Cadenza can size its system to a customer’s needs, and larger buildings might use multiple units, Lampe-Onnerud said.
“What does that mean for the world? It means already existing infrastructure can effortlessly adopt these,” she said. “Cadenza can basically power a whole building.”
She envisions having batteries installed in residences, police stations, schools and municipalities.
On-site batteries, she noted, wouldn’t be impacted by major storms in the same way as power lines, which can topple in high winds.
Lampe-Onnerud declined to provide specifics on battery costs, saying it varies depending on the size of a building and a customer’s needs. She estimates customers can expect to make back their investment in three to five years, mainly through lower electricity bills.
Customers can also sell excess power back to utilities, she said.
In February, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) announced the installation of Cadenza’s lithium-ion superCell technology for a demo project at its White Plains offices, to reduce its peak electricity load.
The NYPA said its goal is to demonstrate whether the unit will provide sufficient energy storage and power to meet commercial, industrial and network demands at similar buildings.
Multiple municipalities in Connecticut, such as Bridgeport, Hartford and Shelton, have expressed interest too, Lampe-Onnerud said.
Cadenza entered a partnership in 2018 with UConn to conduct research and materials analysis.
Late in 2022, UConn announced that it aims to achieve carbon neutrality on campus by 2030. Lampe-Onnerud says she is hopeful Cadenza’s batteries will be used in helping achieve that goal.
UConn President Radenka Maric, who participated in the research partnership with Cadenza as a professor, said the school’s sustainability efforts include pursuing a variety of clean energy sources, from hydrogen fuel cells and solar, to wind power and lithium-ion batteries.
Any campus battery installation would need to go through the normal bid process, Maric said.
Local utility Eversource is among the companies embracing battery technology.
It installed its own 38 megawatt-hour lithium-ion battery in Provincetown, at the tip of Cape Cod. The system went into service in December 2022. Cadenza was not involved in that project.
Chris McKinnon, an Eversource spokesperson, said the system reduces the frequency and duration of power outages for the company’s customers in Provincetown, Wellfleet and Truro.
“Battery storage is a crucial component of our all-encompassing approach to achieving regional clean energy goals, particularly as we look to maximize the use of distributed generation, such as wind and solar,” McKinnon said. “We are actively assessing additional battery storage projects within our service territory to improve system resiliency for our customers and advance clean energy.”