2020 in Review: A Strange and Hopeful Year for Energy Storage

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This year has certainly been unusual, to put it gently. While the global ups and downs have been well-documented, we’ve taken a moment to reflect on the key moments for our industry and company this year.

Reaching new heights as IHI Terrasun Solutions

As we cross the threshold from 2020 into the new year, our team is actively deploying 48 new projects that will be commissioned in the early months of 2021. While COVID-19 impacted every industry and a variety of ways, the energy storage industry is still growing.  We started this year as IHI Energy Storage, and are proud to advance these projects as IHI Terrasun Solutions, Inc. We’re proud to see our newly incorporated company mark new milestones at over 370+ MWh projects installed and in project execution. Many of these projects are with our longstanding, repeat customers, whom we will continue to support and grow alongside.  

Navigating turbulence in policy and tariffs

The policies around trade and tariff of 2020 impacted the energy storage industry. A trade war with China gradually escalated until lithium-ion batteries from China were impacted. When this happened, many energy storage projects were relying on Chinese batteries – some even had batteries on route to projects. The Section 301 issues forced the industry to search for other sources of lithium-ion products, and there weren’t many. Supply chains became very restricted and the industry felt the pressure. With the change in administration, we’re hopeful that the restrictions will begin to ease. Our resident tariff expert, Matt Toth, explains that while we saw some relief earlier this year, it will take some time for the incoming administration to negotiate with China and adjust the trade situation. “Before we see any changes to the current tariffs, I would expect a period of negotiations with China that may take a year or so.” However, the new administration has indicated that there will eventually be the changes that we as an industry are hoping for. “The incoming administration has indicated their intentions, so I am hopeful that we’ll see changes in time. Unfortunately, the speculation of these potential changes has already had a weakening effect on the dollar which may offset much of the benefit of Section 301 being removed.”  

Advancing our technology and capabilities

This year, we improved our capabilities and worked closely with our suppliers and customers to build our offerings. In 2020, we:

  • Executed DC-coupled solar + storage projects with multiple PCS partners leveraging Terrasun’s control technology
  • Diversified our integrated battery portfolio, supporting our technology agnostic stance and offering customers both LFP and NMC technologies
  • Provided customers with additional safety features and integrated them into existing systems
  • Developed and implemented remote commissioning and software upgrade capabilities
  • For 2021, we are focusing on delivering advanced warranty data management, ERCOT compatible solutions, and continuing to diversify our integrated battery technology portfolio

As the market develops new technology and new needs, we will continue to expand and adapt our offerings.  

Growing our team

As our work has expanded, so has our team. Members of IHI Terrasun Solutions are working in 9 cities across 3 countries and from diverse cultural backgrounds (representing more than 10 countries). Our projects and services teams have seen the greatest growth, as they are hard at work on a large portfolio of deployments in the US. Our global team includes members from a wide variety of backgrounds and countries, including Japan, Korea, India, Canada, and more.  

Onwards to a new year

Toshiaki Nishio, President of IHI Terrasun Solutions:

Despite the challenges in 2020, we’ve reached some exciting milestones, and the energy storage industry as a whole has done well. In 2020 not only did we address the many unique difficulties of this year, but we also addressed issues caused by weather and environmental changes as well. In the new year, we will build various renewable energy services to solve these problems as we continue to bring solar + storage systems and lifecycle services to our valued customers.

Jamal Burki, Senior Vice President of IHI Terrasun Solutions:

I’m looking forward to witnessing our continued growth, based on our expert team and best in class processes. We will continue to deliver the highest quality products and services to our customers. Even though 2021 will have its own challenges, due to COVID-19 and follow up recovery, we expect our industry and business to continue the growth we’ve seen in 2020. I'm also excited that the incoming administration has pledged to double down on renewable energy as part of the recovery plan.