NYBEST Announces Development For Commercialization Center

Posted on June 29th, 2012 by
   

Dr. William Acker, Executive Director of NY-BEST, discusses the new financing that his organization received to build a new commercialization center for energy and battery storage.

Full Transcript:

Ben Lack Please talk to us a little bit about NY-BEST in NewYork battery and energy technology consortium.
Dr Acker NY-Best was formed a little over 2 years ago, as an initiative from New York state. We’re a non-profit consortium of over a hundred companies and research organizations that are driving to grow the energy storage industry.  We are specifically focused on leveraging our world class R&D, academic institutions and manufacturing capabilities to catalyze and grow the industry as a whole and make New York State a leader in the industry.
Ben Lack The organization has recently announced that it received $3.5 million in State funding toward a development project for commercialization center for advanced batteries and energy storage in Eastman Business Park. Talk to me a little bit about why this project came about and why it’s important that it’s happening?
Dr Acker New York State has a wealth of R&D going on the energy storage field with world leading universities, companies and national laboratories. Emerging from  those efforts are a lot of new technologies and start-up companies that need assistance to bring their products to market. One of the key barriers is the ability to translate R&D into successful commercial products. In the energy industry that process requires considerable resources including testing resources, prototyping resources, guidance on navigating complex markets and help with financing. So our organization, NY_BEST is focused on catalyzing that transition from R&D to commercial  products. In doing that, we’ve identified an opportunity, which is the product commercialization center at Eastman Business Park. That center will deliver prototyping services. It will deliver testing and validation services it will deliver pilot manufacturing services and business assistance for these organizations.
Ben Lack When can we expect to see the property for operation?
Dr Acker New York state has committed a total of $7 million in financing to seed fund this initiative. It’s contingent upon a public/private partnership. So NY BEST is presently working with our members, to develop the business commitments for the center. As that comes together we anticipate launching the center with initial work later this year and then opening of the center mid next year.
Ben Lack You’ve mentioned this just a moment ago that technology advancement is a key driving to objectives that your organization is trying to accomplish. What’s some of the biggest opportunities that are in the space and what ‘s some of your membership companies are doing to come up with a new innovative energy storage ideas?
Dr Acker Energy storage of course is a very broad field. It ranges from transportation applications to electric grid applications, and traditional battery applications. So, the needs that companies are trying to address will vary dramatically across those various sectors as well. There isn’t one answer that is going to fit all of these sectors. But, I think there are general themes that are very  important. In many instances, companies are seeking  higher energy density devices. Most if not all companies are seeking to reduce the cost of their devices. And our companies are demonstrating that you can achieve these objectives in a number of different ways; there’s a lot of exciting work going on in electrical storage and batteries, including work on new types of batteries and ultra capacitors, advances in fuel cells, advances in quite few of other types of  energy storage devices happening in New York State.
Ben Lack Why are you doing what you’re doing and why have you chosen to spend your time in this space?
Dr Acker Energy storage is going to change the way we use energy in the world. We have a need for sustainable energy on this planet and we really need to be able to change  how we deliver energy both in transportation and in electric grid industry.  Energy storage is the catalyst and  the key enabler to make this transition. So when you look at the transportation industry, hybrid electric vehicles, fuel cell vehicles, and electric drive vehicles  are going to dramatically increase the efficiency of transportation. In the electricity market, the ability to penetrate with renewables, at very high levels, is going to be highly dependent on our ability to store energy. In fact, energy storage will allow us to make the electric grid more efficient and more reliable. We presently have an electric grid that has been designed  to meet our energy needs on the hottest day, highest power day of the year. This is incredibly inefficient and results in over capacity at other times of the year. With energy storage, we can store the energy from our power plants to be used later – resulting in a more efficient use of the energy generated from traditional sources.So energy storage is going to transform to the biggest industries in the planet and allow for us to reap great benefits. And New York state is in a very  good position to lead this transition. This is what gets me  quite excited to be able to help drive this industry and launch this transition that we’re seeing.
Ben Lack How did you get involved in the industry?
Dr Acker I’ve been in the energy field for over 20 years. I’ve worked in a number of different aspects of energy from traditional petroleum various different alternative of energy, fuel cells, etc. And I’ve been involved more recently with micro-fuel cells and batteries and recognized that energy storage is the key enabler. About 2 years ago I made the transition from the private sector, having been in a number of different start-ups, to leading this industry organization to help grow this industry.
Ben Lack When looking at the transportation sector and batteries specifically, what’s the biggest surprise that’s happening in the market right now?
Dr Acker I think there are couple of things. One is that there is a recognition that there are still a lot of opportunities  in this industry and people are making quick moves to embrace new technologies. Those new technologies dramatically impact key industries. So, I am pleased to see that happen; the embrace of bringing these new technologies forward to the market. Now, with that said, bringing new technologies forward in the energy space, of course, is a very different and much more challenging than in another fields, because we are talking about very traditional market places, and we are talking about very capital intensive applications. We have a lot of work to do but I’ve been pleased by the willingness to embrace change in this field.
Ben Lack And talk to me a little bit about an obstacle in the battery environment right now that is slowing down progress.
Dr Acker In the adoption for batteries and energy storage work generally, in the electricity grid, we really have to update our policy and regulatory environment. The way we pay for benefits on electricity grids, and the way electricity grid has been regulated over the years has been divided into generation, transmission, load. As a result, energy storage spans all of those areas. So, energy storage gives us many benefits that are not necessarily presently valued, in monetary way. One of the key challenges  we have for wide-scale penetration of energy storage in the electricity grid area is to update our regulations and policies such that we can realize, for the people that are putting in the energy storage, the full value of what they’re doing.
Ben Lack In New York, what role does NYSERDA  play in helping you advance your organization’s causes?
Dr Acker The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority plays a very important role in New York State in advancing clean energy within the state,  and supporting the work of the energy industry as a whole within the state. NYSERDA is fairly unique within the government sector  in that it is really focused on advancing energy research and development. NYSERDA has been one of the key funders of NY_BEST They were one of the initiators of the organization. NYSERDA funds a variety of different  R&D projects and deployment initiatives and incentives for energy as a whole and particularly for energy storage, both in the electric grid and transportation. We’re quite fortunate to have NYSERDA in New York state.

 

 

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