Local company plans test run for high-capacity battery storage

The Hour

Alexander Soule

The Hour

Syndicated in: The Danbury News Times, The New Haven Register, The Register Citizen, The Albany Times Union, The Middletown Press, The Connecticut Post, The Darien News, The Greenwich Time, The Stamford Advocate, Westport News, My San Antonio

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The state of New York has retained a southwestern Connecticut startup to test the concept of a massive battery storage system to help utilities better integrate renewable sources and provide extra power during periods of peak demand.

Created in 2012 by Wilton resident Christina Lampe-Onnerud, Cadenza Innovation is developing a new class of lithium-ion batteries that can be paired together like Legos depending on the amount of power capacity needed, and assembled to fit in available space.

Cadenza has raised $10 million in funding to date and has more than 25 employees, with the company having a small office in Wilton and its development lab inside the Duracell research building in Bethel.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority is financing Cadenza’s project to explore a utility-grade battery storage system at the White Plains headquarters of the New York Power Authority. The publicly owned NYPA generates nearly a quarter of the state’s electricity, largely from hydropower turbines downstream from Niagara Falls and on the St. Lawrence River in Massena north of Albany.

Like other utilities nationally, NYPA has been looking to add other renewable sources of power to include solar and wind farms, with batteries offering the promise of taking up the slack during periods when weather is not cooperating. Electric vehicle maker Tesla is among the companies developing utility-grade battery systems.

“NYSERDA wanted … a low-cost performer with very high reliability — and most important to the state, safety,” Lampe-Onnerud told Hearst Connecticut Media. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm around this.”

In a 2017 study authored for NYSERDA by Per Onnerud, Lampe-Onnerud’s spouse and a battery expert in his own right, Onnerud described Cadenza’s “supercell” design that incorporates ceramic housing to insulate battery units so that power output can be boosted safely compared to traditional, nickel-plated “steel can” designs.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has set a target of 1,500 megawatts of energy storage for New York, at a potential investment of $260 million. Cadenza will build a 50 kilowatt demonstration project at NYPA headquarters, with plans to create the batteries in Bethel and assemble them in White Plains.

In addition to utility-scale energy storage, Cadenza is investigating battery technology for electric vehicles. Lampe-Onnerud had previously founded Boston Power, which received close to $350 million in financial commitments for a lithium-ion battery pack for cars, with a Chinese company ultimately acquiring the technology.

Lampe-Onnerud moved to Wilton to take a position with the Westport-based hedge fund Bridgewater Associates before striking back out on her own in 2012 with Cadenza to develop new lithium-ion battery technologies.