Intelligent battery energy storage systems integrator and operator Stem announced on February 6 that it would deploy more than 7.5 megawatt-hours (MWh) of energy storage capacity to serve eight commercial buildings owned Kilroy Realty Corp., a West Coast Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT). Boulder, Colorado's Black Bear Energy, acting as Kilroy's agent, facilitated the transaction.
Leading commercial real estate developers and owners are only just beginning to latch on to the financial, social, and environmental, benefits they can realize by investing in distributed solar and intelligent battery energy storage systems; the costs of which are falling fast. Last November, Black Bear announced it would represent Kilroy in its effort to build out 5.2 MW of commercial solar PV systems across its properties.
“Sustainability is at the foundation of everything we do at KRC,” Senior Vice President of Sustainability Sara Neff stated at the time. “With the installation of solar systems on nine of our properties, we can demonstrate that our commitment to sustainability improves our business by providing both an economically viable solution to procuring clean energy and covered parking.”
Stem's AI-powered Athena battery energy storage system
Stem will install its Athena integrated battery energy storage system at four Kilroy office buildings in San Francisco and another four at commercial buildings Kilroy owns in Los Angeles. Equipped with proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) software, Stem touts that it operates the world's “smartest energy storage system.”
Athena, according to Stem, is ideal for utilities, independent power producers and others aiming to construct virtual power plants by deploying and networking multiple intelligent, battery-based energy storage systems.
“We've created a game changing solution for a problem too complex for humans alone to solve. With Athena, we can optimize the timing of energy use like never before,” Stem's Head of Product Innovation Aaron Yonker states.
There was a bit of creativity and innovation involved in structuring the financial aspects of Stem's contract with Kilroy. The deal is based on a financial structure custom tailored for real estate companies, according to a press release.
Building virtual power plants
Stem itself is a pioneering, market-leading operator of intelligent battery energy storage networks. Based in Silicon Valley, the company was one of the first to win a distributed energy storage resources contract from a major California utility, investor-owned utility -- Southern California Edison -- back in 2016. The contract award followed in the wake of California enacting the first state-wide mandate requiring utilities to acquire battery energy storage capacity to enhance the efficiency, reliability, and resiliency of power grids.
The energy storage mandate is also expected to convey benefits to human and environmental health and safety, in no small measure by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. All this applies to commercial and industrial organizations, as well.
“Intelligent energy storage helps reduce the environmental footprint of our building operations,” said Sara Neff, senior vice president of sustainability at KRC. “Black Bear’s expertise with clean energy and Stem’s AI-powered solution will help us achieve our environmental goals while helping to modernize the grid, which is a natural alignment with our business vision.”
“When it comes to real estate and energy storage for commercial buildings, it’s the brains behind the batteries that differentiate solutions. KRC is a renowned innovator in the real estate industry, and we are proud to support their corporate sustainability plans,” added Stem CEO John Carrington. “Real estate leaders recognize Stem’s innovative model and unparalleled experience, which allows us to execute with precision, address siting constraints, and deploy quickly.”
Black Bear Energy CEO Drew Torbin pointed out that Kilroy was one of only three US real estate companies to be added to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) World Index in 2017. “We enjoy bringing good companies together. The energy 'superintelligence' that Stem brings is a great fit for KRC,” he said.
*Images credit: 1) Kilroy Realty Corp.; Stem