Unlocking safer, cost-effective, and distributed energy storage solutions in New York City is a key challenge for the City’s renewable energy transition. Today energy storage systems are reaching a tipping point - battery technologies continue to get cheaper, regulatory and grid implementation pathways are being developed, and resiliency and energy arbitrage opportunities are making energy storage more compelling. However, there are still barriers to overcome before energy storage can scale to meaningfully accelerate this transition.
With the launch of Resilient Energy in 2021, Newlab put the complex challenges of advancing urban energy storage front and center. The effort is now culminating with five startups building, testing and deploying their storage technologies across New York City to de-risk solutions. Newlab, in partnership with NYCEDC and Con Edison, have mobilized pilot sites, capital, and key experts to enable real-world testing to pave the way for eventual adoption and scale of these systems in the country’s premiere urban environment.
The challenge kicked off with an initial research sprint to identify key opportunities:
After a competitive selection process, ElectricFish, a team based in the Bay Area and Detroit, was selected to join the cohort for their novel approach to integrating EV charging and energy storage assets. ElectricFish builds networked energy storage with DC fast charging capabilities - all with minimal grid upgrades. The company's plug-and-play system, 350squaredTM, is designed to power community energy loads through a bi-directional electricity meter and incorporate an EV charging port that can deliver up to 350 kW charging rates. Enabling the hardware is the team's optimization engine, Stargazer, which coordinates the charger’s embedded battery storage to intelligently and cost-effectively balance energy inflows and outflows, forecast EV charging needs, and facilitate local grid resiliency services. ElectricFish’s hardware plus software approach enables monetization, resilience, and charging capabilities for future community distributed energy resources.
In search of an impactful pilot site that would enable rapid deployment, Newlab worked with Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy (JBRPC), a public-private partnership dedicated to improving 10,000+ acres of parklands throughout Jamaica Bay and the Rockaways, to engage the National Park Service at Gateway National Recreation Area. “We are beyond thrilled to help bring this green energy demonstration to Gateway’s Floyd Bennett Field, which we are working to activate as a public center for recreation, education, and green workforce development.” said Terri Carta, Executive Director of JBRPC. Floyd Bennett Field was New York City’s first municipal airport and it later became a World War II naval air station before transforming into a 1,300 acre park managed by the National Park Service. JBRPC is actively exploring how to adapt the park for a variety of future uses, including as a proving ground for new, climate-friendly technologies that will be accessible to the public. This made the location a test-friendly regulatory environment for energy storage solutions, as well as a strategic location between Brooklyn and the Rockaways to attract local New Yorkers.
“The National Park Service’s Floyd Bennett Field is a perfect use case for us! As a coastal area impacted by grid constraints and storms, our rapidly deployable and right-sized storage-integrated charging infrastructure is well-positioned to meaningfully complement the City’s resilient capacity-building during this unprecedented electric transition,” said ElectricFish Co-founder and CEO Anurag Kamal. Installed in June 2023 with plans to be up and running through the duration of the summer, the device will deliver and optimize against three core services:
Multi-stakeholder collaboration is essential for siting a successful pilot and offering the right testing ground for new climate solutions. The ElectricFish pilot is supported by the Resilient Energy partnership between Newlab, NYCEDC and Con Edison, and was critically enabled by the team at JBRPC. By leveraging the established and trusted relationship between JBRPC and NPS, ElectricFish and the Resilient Energy team were able to deploy quickly and efficiently. Building coalitions of startups, local stakeholders and asset owners is key to fostering an environment where new green technologies and concepts can be rapidly iterated upon in the real world. These early proof points also create momentum and line of sight for larger regulatory shifts that help to attract the next generation of climate innovators to NYC and position the City as a leader in adopting emerging technologies as part of its overall climate strategy.
As a result of this pilot, ElectricFish is now exploring how it could empower emerging electrified fleets. This summer, representatives from City agencies considering new EV charging solutions for their fleets, such as the Department of Citywide Administrative Services and the Department of Sanitation, will visit the pilot to see the technology in action and help inform their own strategies. This demonstration will include depletion testing of the device for EV fleet vehicles as well as a backup power demonstration to the site’s local grid.
As the City looks to electrify transportation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it will become increasingly important to provide opportunities for the public to learn about and engage with new solutions. ElectricFish’s energy storage-enabled EV charger is available for public use this summer. New Yorkers are encouraged to visit the device, located near the entrance gate to Floyd Bennett Field, and learn more about how it works via a digital screen that will include educational material. EV drivers can test out the charger on site for themselves.
Along with the full suite of Resilient Energy projects, ElectricFish’s pilot at Floyd Bennett Field represents an important first milestone for its entry into the NYC market. Critically, it also highlights how a committed coalition of government and community stakeholders, when teamed with an innovative startup, can bring energy technologies to life in our own backyard and engage New Yorkers in the transition to an electrified City.