Energy Storage Option: Smart Water Heaters

Energy Storage Option: Smart Water Heaters

CEO, Olin Lagon & Operations Director, Nicole Brodie

A year ago, Hawaiian Electric began deploying smart water heaters as very first residential behind-the-meter real-time energy storage.

Hawaii is transitioning faster than anywhere else from a huge and risky over dependency on imported fossil fuels, particularly for electricity generation.

A new use for water heaters, storing energy for a utility company.

Historically, storage technologies have not been widely used because it has not been cost competitive with cheaper sources of power, such as fossil fuels. However, given the recent decline in cost as well as improved storage technologies, storage has become an option that is able to compete.

Hawaii’s transition to 100% renewables

Under Hawaii’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), each electric utility company must meet the following percentages of “renewable electrical energy” sales:

  • 30% of its net electricity sales by December 31, 2020
  • 40% of its net electricity sales by December 31, 2030
  • 70% of its net electricity sales by December 31, 2040
  • 100% of its net electricity sales by December 31, 2045

Energy storage and smart water heaters

Shifted Energy is a Hawaii-based demand response (DR) aggregator that develops, installs, maintains, and operates smart grid DR solutions that leverages the energy and thermal storage capacity of grid interactive water heaters (GIWH).

  • Shifted’s solutions connects water heaters to smart systems allowing heaters to cycle on or off based on real time grid needs for increased or reduced aggregate power consumption.
  • Cycling heaters on can absorb excess intermittent renewable power such as daytime PV production, as well as providing ancillary grid services such as frequency regulation.
  • Shifted creates a unique software layer to add energy efficiency algorithms and systems to reduce participant energy bills.

The value of smart water heaters is the substantial load with significant usage during the critical late afternoon ramp. This entire first ever deployment – anywhere – of Grid Integrated Water Heaters (GIWH) technology would not have happened without Olin Lagon and his company Shifted Energy.

Olin is a software architect with a string of patents who has a long history of social responsibility. Born and raised in Hawaii’s public housing this founder and former director of non-profit Kanu Hawaii is putting his love of technology directly to work. Olin formed Shifted Energy and joined the Energy Excelerator specifically to help leverage GIWH.

He is convinced that GIWH is the single most cost-effective and scalable renewable technology that will directly benefit all stakeholders. Working directly with Hawaiian Electric, Olin and the Energy Excelerator helped fund this first deployment in western Oahu and Olin took personal responsibility (“kuleana” in Hawaii) working hands-on over the past year with plumbers and electricians during installation and start up.


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