We got a chance to talk to Eric Clifton, an entrepreneur currently working with his fifth startup, Orison.
Clifton spent a big part of his career working in the residential building and housing business. For example he has worked with energy related technology with regards to buildings, utility and land development. He also started a net zero energy factory for housing companies that were addressing the needs for houses for the people that lost their homes in Hurricane Katrina and in Greensburg, Kansas.
With his new energy storage company, Orison, he is trying to do just that; solve the problem of demand response. Orison makes batteries that power homes and businesses to reduce energy costs and provide backup during blackouts. The idea of compartment living combined with wanting to make the product into something more than just a battery inspired the futuristic design. But the thing that makes this product unique is the plug-and-play feature. The energy storage system is geared towards demand response and allows the integration of more grid scale solar into the market. This gives consumers control so they can store or access energy from any electricity source, including grid or solar power, or wind power as more common in Sweden. When powered by the grid, the product stores energy when utility rates are low to power homes and businesses when rates are high. If connected to solar, Orison allows consumers to locally store the energy they produce so that it will not be sold at a loss to the utility. By localizing energy distribution, Orison helps to save money and reduce peak demand.
We spent a lot of years thinking how to make that work and there are still a lot of people thinking it can’t be done, but we know better. If we are going to move to a clean energy future we have to bring renewables on to the grid. We can’t take six months to a year to install one device, we have to do this quickly.
So far, entering the energy storage market has been successful for Orison. To launch the products they used Kickstarter to gain exposure and to really bring visibility to what they are doing. This has also been a way to test how ready the consumers are to buy a product like this when in most areas the return of investment is fairly low or not at all. According to Clifton, Orison’s typical consumer is really concerned with two things; one is net metering going away, particularly in places like Hawaii or Nevada where if you have solar on your roof you are paying to export it to the grid and you are paying to get it back. Then it really has no value on your roof except as utility, Clifton explains. The second is those who are trying to figure out what the next generation grid looks like and how they are going to get to these high renewable goals that has been set by the cities and states.
It is both environmental and resiliency that people are interested in. So we found out globally there has been a very large interest from this campaign… We don’t believe we are going to be the right solution for everybody but we have a very large market in sight.
Clifton thinks this will be the next generation grid and he is confident that this will enable stability of those grids. This means that in a few years this kind of product could be something for all households and not just for single families with solar on the roof. He is also confident that the now high price for these kinds of products will be lowered as you put more demand on the manufacturers. He tells us that his hope and also his gut feeling is that in three to five years Orison will be able to reduce their price to almost half of what it is today.
The next step for Orison is to get the manufacturing done and make sure they have all the code compliance under their belt. Moreover, the next step is to do some broad utility deployment globally in, Australia, Europe, Philippines, Latin America, the U.S. and Canada.
We are moving to the standards of Europe and also moving to Australia in parallel so we are trying to do it in the same time. So when it comes out in the U.S. it will be available in most countries around the world as well.
We are really looking forward to see Orison enter the European market soon to help us store our renewable energy in the future. Do you want to know more about Orison? Please visit their website www.orison.com