Change and the Energy Storage Systems Market

By Tim Rzeszutek

Recently, I was listening to a podcast with an interview of Keith Krach. Keith worked in leaderships roles for GM, Razna, Qronos, Ariba and, most recently, Docusign. As a 25-year-old and recent Harvard Business School Graduate, Keith led an initiative at GM to joint venture with Fanuc Robotics, which was a very transformative time for GM. Keith believes that “change” is the most powerful word in any language and that change equals growth.

He also believes that in business you’re either growing, or dying.

Now either you love or hate both change and growth, but no matter what side you are on you have to realize it is a reality and that if we want to remain a top-everything electrical and general contracting business, we need to embrace both. The good news is that change is not always drastic and, in most cases, is subtle.

We are seeing these subtle changes today in our energy storage markets we work in. In the beginning, these ESS (energy storage systems) where installed with a PV system. Then we started to see some standalone systems. The technology evolved from large ISO containers where we lifted 300 lb. batteries into two smaller pods with batteries pre-installed. Our customers for these systems are also changing. Originally, we would work for an EPC (Engineer, Procurement, & Construction) contractor where we would support them from just the electrical installation. Today, we are starting to move into an EPC role where we will be the engineer, procure major equipment other than the battery equipment and will complete the total construction process, including site work, concrete, electrical, fence, and landscaping.

The pictures you see on this page are of a new customer with a new type of technology. I say they are a new customer because the company itself is new but really, they are personnel from another ESS manufacturer that we had a great track history with. I also say the technology is new but in reality, it is the same concept just better. This new ESS system by American Battery Solutions has fewer connections, takes up less of a footprint, has denser energy storage batterie, and is field-installed faster.

Elm was hired to complete this temporary prototype plant installation for ABS to test and also for them to showcase to their customers. The project is located in the parking lot of their Facility in Hudson, MA. The project for Elm overall has been very successful with zero accidents, injuries and near misses. It has helped strengthen our existing relationships with personnel at ABS and also create new relationships with their team. Finally, it has created a lot of opportunity for us with all of ABS prospective clients that are coming through to look at the equipment as they are asking who completed the installation. Hopefully this will generate more EPC opportunities for us in the near future.

Elm currently today has multiple PV projects with coupled ESS systems, a standalone ESS installation in an active substation in Groton, MA, and is working on inking a contract in the next few days for another standalone battery installation at the new Groton, MA High School. The latter two EPC projects, Elm is responsible for engineering, procurement, and construction. We are also working closely with a customer of ours for the construction of 10-20 standalone ESS’s for local municipalities.

Our openness to change and our ability to evolve are what’s keeping Elm on the frontline of this market. Thanks to everyone who worked on this project and those of you that come to work everyday looking for a way to grow yourself, your co-workers and find a way to do what you did yesterday better today!

If you’d like to give a listen to that excellent podcast by Keith Krach, hit the play button below: