Walmart has selected San Francisco-based start-up Advanced Microgrid Solutions (AMS) to install and operate 40MWh energy storage systems at 27 Walmart stores. This agreement forms that first phase of the project, which was announced on Tuesday (11 April).

“Cost efficiency is the hallmark of the Walmart brand,” the retailer’s vice president of energy Mark Vanderhelm said. “Adding energy storage capabilities to our clean energy resources reduces the capacity needed from the grid and is part of our commitment to increase reliance on renewable energy.”

Walmart has turned to energy storage to streamline its approach to achieving a target to power 50% of its operations with renewable energy by 2025. The US retailer has already installed on-site systems, including solar photovoltaics, at 350 of its stores.

The partnership with AMS will improve the efficiency of the use of renewable energy and provided flexible grid support to nearby utilities. Walmart has claimed that the project will “guarantee energy savings” at no upfront cost.

AMS will operate behind-the-metre batteries at the 27 stores, dubbed Hybrid Electric Buildings, controlling energy consumption and generating revenue for the buildings by sending excess energy to Southern California Edison, one of the largest US grid operators.

“When it comes to sustainable and efficient energy management, Walmart sets the global standard,” said Susan Kennedy, chief executive of AMS. “Walmart continues to demonstrate its visionary leadership by delivering high quality and low costs for its customers.”

Storage cause

The start-up is also an active member of California’s Demand Response Auction Mechanism (DRAM), a pilot project to equip businesses with more than 125MW of flexible energy capacity.

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is looking to open-up US wholesale electricity markets to energy storage and demand response initiatives. A coalition featuring companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Tesla have all applauded this decision.

The first ever collaborative report between the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the International Energy Agency (IEA) found that an energy transition to renewables that utilises energy storage and other innovations could unlock $10trn a year in benefits.

Companies are eager to capitalise on the economic benefits of energy storage. Delivery firm UPS is set to combine energy storage elements with its London fleet of electric vehicles. A £10.8m energy storage project is also being trialled on the Isles of Scilly by smart battery developers Moixa Technologies.

Matt Mace

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