Ice Bear

Here’s another business based on receiving taxpayer or ratepayer money.

Welcome to Ice Bear.

Ice Bear is another method for storing electricity. Without storage, it’s impossible for unreliable sources, such as wind and solar, to supply large amounts of electricity.

Renewable portfolio standards (RPS) are forcing utilities to adopt renewables, such as wind and solar, but the grid is put at risk, and reliability reduced, unless there is a way to store electricity.

Enter Ice Bear, a product of Ice Energy Corporation.

Glacier ice. Photo by D. Dears.
Glacier ice. Photo by D. Dears.

 

Ice Bear’s systems will help Southern California Edison (SCE) meet California’s mandate of having 50 MW of storage on line this year: Unfortunately it comes at a cost to ratepayers and taxpayers.

Thus far, Ice Bear users have received around $630,000 from SCE’s, Optimization Energy Efficiency Program.

Reportedly, the average customer made an investment of approximately $140,000, but, on average, each received a rebate of around $70,000, or half the investment.

In theory, the Ice Bear uses electricity during off-peak hours to make ice, then, during peak hours, the stored ice can be used to reduce the air-condoning load when the grid is operating at its peak, typically during the afternoon.

Supposedly, this eliminates the need to add new generation capacity. What isn’t mentioned, however, is that the investment is merely being postponed. At some point, additional generating capacity will have to be added, assuming the economy grows.

The Ice Bear roof top units look like air-conditioning units, and are installed near existing AC units

The Ice Energy Corporation’s web site says, “State mandates to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and integrate increasing amounts of generation from clean, renewable sources like wind and solar further complicate the equation.”

Here, we have tacit admission that it’s the effort to cut CO2 emissions that’s causing the need for storage and that without storage, wind, solar, and other unreliable renewables won’t work.

Another twist to this story, is how PV solar roof top panels, which can’t generate electricity when the sun doesn’t shine, are using the Ice Bear to store thermal energy at shopping malls for use in the evening to augment the Mall’s air-conditioning system.

But, is the Ice Bear a low cost solution?

Maybe — if utilities have to meet mandates for energy storage.

But definitely not, when compared with building new power plants — that will have to be built, eventually, anyway.

The Ice Bear system costs around $2,070 per KW. This compares with $1,100 per KW to build a new gas-fired power plant.

Once again, mandates to cut CO2 emissions are hurting ratepayers and taxpayers.

 

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