Energy storage for wind, solar to top $10B in a decade — report

Source: Katherine Ling, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, October 21, 2013

The expected increased use of wind and solar on the electric grid will create a more than $10 billion global market for energy storage systems in 10 years, according to a new report from market analyst Navigant Research.

The nascent industry currently generates less than $150 million in revenue, according to the report.

Energy storage systems store excess electricity from solar panels and wind turbines that are working at full capacity so that it can be used at night or other times renewable energy is offline. Energy storage systems currently carry a hefty price tag, so natural gas and demand response — getting paid to stop certain electricity use for a brief period — are currently the most popular forms of technology to “balance” intermittent energy generation from wind and solar.

“Although market and industry issues have restrained growth to date, energy storage for wind and solar offers a compelling business case,” Anissa Dehamna, senior research analyst at Navigant Research, said in a statement. “This is especially true at the residential level, where electricity rates are typically more expensive on a per kilowatt-hour basis than in commercial and industrial settings.”

There is particular interest in using energy storage to create “microgrids” that will enable consumers to have power if the main electric grid goes down or to not be subject to volatile electricity prices.

The opportunity and need for energy storage are driving much research into the field, including about $33 million in funding from the Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy for about 12 different breakthrough energy storage technologies.

Energy storage includes a broad array of technologies, the report says, but at present, there are seven technologies competing for market share: compressed air, hydrogen and five battery technologies — advanced lead-acid, lithium ion, flow, sodium sulfur and sodium metal halide.

Each has its own advantages and disadvantages in the market, including limited production, financing difficulty and establishing a business case, the report says.

Click here to read the report summary.