5 years at IHI Terrasun: Aaron Shoresman, Senior Performance Analysis Engineer for Solar & Storage
The Terrasun team is comprised of a diverse group, each of whom brings a different take on the energy storage work we do every day. Aaron Shoresman has been a teammate and colleague for 5 years, so we asked him some questions about his experience at IHI Terrasun.
Tell us a little bit about your studies and professional background.
Inspired by a family friend who later became my mentor, I originally intended to focus on international agricultural development and earned a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics. My first consulting gig was a feasibility study for a large agricultural development project in a country that soon became off limits to further investment and thus further assignments. Looking to broaden my job prospects, I decided to attend graduate school in Norway. I intended to continue my pursuit of a career in agricultural development by studying resource economics; however, I quickly learned that given the importance of energy to Norway’s economy, the most popular courses at the Norwegian School of Economics were – as you’d guess – in energy. I took a few energy-focused courses in my first semester and decided to pursue concentration in Energy Economics. During grad school, analysis of large energy datasets, learning about how the energy sectors worldwide operate (and further, how the players within them make money), and gaining an understanding of the strengths and limitations of various energy technologies provided the foundation that I’ve been building on at IHI Terrasun.
What brought you to Terrasun?
I was working for a small consulting firm advising the U.S. Trade and Development Agency on whether to award grants to U.S. companies interested in exporting batteries for distributed generation scale projects in emerging markets. IHI saw references to batteries and renewable energy analysis in my LinkedIn profile and reached out. I had seen in my consulting work that the industry was poised for amazing growth and was excited to join a company with a compelling vision for establishing itself, including a strategy to dominate the DC-coupled solar+ storage market. Five years later, we’re commissioning the largest DC-coupled solar + storage project in North America.
[Aside: DC coupled solar + storage means that the batteries are charged directly from the solar panels. The batteries and solar panels share a common inverter, which can send electricity from the solar panels to the grid or to the batteries. This setup is more complex to execute from a technical standpoint but gives a reduction in overall equipment cost (no need for a second set of inverters) as well as ability to capture solar production that would otherwise have been clipped by inverter power limits, called clipped energy. Efficiency from the direct DC to DC charge of the batteries is another benefit of a DC-coupled configuration. With the IRA incentive for standalone storage, fewer projects are adopting this model. IHI Terrasun’s portfolio is so far split about evenly between AC-/standalone and DC-coupled projects, but the breakdown will skew heavily to the AC-coupled and standalone projects in the future.]
How has your role changed in the last 5 years?
I started out modeling solar + storage operation, revenues, and customer ROI using ES/Analyzer, a tool built by IHI Terrasun and used by several of our customers to help them get a sense of project financial viability and optimal Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) sizing. To improve the revenues and sizing model, I started joining technical discussions with our vendors so that I could incorporate more realistic aspects of performance into my calculations. As I learned more about performance of the batteries, inverters, and DC-DC converters we integrate, it became more valuable for me to use that knowledge to help vet new products, inform design, and write warranties and performance guarantees – so my role shifted in that direction. Recently, I’ve started a collaboration with IHI Corporate (our parent company) to use my knowledge of system performance to enhance our predictive analytics capabilities. Along the way I have also worked with IHI Power Services Corp (IPSC) to establish IHI Terrasun's Remote Monitoring and Diagnostics Center (RMDC).
What drives your mission here?
The work is interesting: we’re in a new industry doing things that have not been done before, we get to learn about new technologies and design systems with them that will simultaneously make money for our customers and contribute to a more sustainable grid. Also, the people are friendly, fun, smart, and collaborative – the folks who spend so much time searching for and interviewing new team members have done a great job at bringing on people who reinforce this culture.
Anything you would like to highlight from your outside-of-work life?
I love traveling with my wife, playing with our dog, and dominating the IHI Terrasun fantasy football league.