Energy Storage: Important New Industry

Energy storage is emerging as an important industry where there’s lots of room for innovative new companies.

Large-scale energy storage supplies cost-effective energy to utilities regardless of fluctuating demand. Small-scale energy storage keeps the lights on during storms and power interruptions.

And energy storage makes all the difference in integrating large sources of solar and wind into the grid. Worldwide, this market alone will grow from $150 million a year now to $10.3 billion by 2023, according to Navigant Research.

During the first half of 2013, 38 energy storage projects have either been announced or deployed, and about 633 projects are operating or under development worldwide, says Navigant. In the US, California leads with 44 projects installed, followed by New York, with 13 projects.

Examples of energy storage projects/ policies are:

Samsung’s 6 MW battery in the UK:

Samsung SDI Battery

New technologies, including capacitor battery technology, lithium titanate oxide, nickel-iron, and solar thermal, are swelling the pipeline of advanced energy storage projects.  At the same time, new variants on older technologies, such as power-to-gas, are also coming online, reports Navigant.

"There are now 29 different energy storage technologies in use worldwide, some with just a small fraction of the overall market," says Anissa Dehamna, senior research analyst with Navigant Research.  "In terms of regional capacity, Asia Pacific continues to be the world leader in deployed capacity, with almost 1.2 gigawatts (GW) representing 47% of global capacity, followed by North America and Western Europe.  In terms of installed projects, however, North America leads with 115 deployments."

While Asian economies are moving toward advanced battery technologies, with the intention of developing export industries, European economies are focusing on integrating renewables at both the bulk and distributed level. The North American market is characterized by a policy of funding innovation and, consequently, remains the most technologically diverse region in the industry.

The market for energy storage is extremely fragmented, with at least 136 vendors offering various solutions.  Excluding traditional pumped storage, the top three vendors are NGK Insulators, Energy Storage and Power LLC, and Solar Millennium. Energy storage is one of the prime areas for venture capital right now.

Another key development in the energy storage market is the increasing specialization and repositioning of firms in the supply chain. Some technology vendors have repositioned themselves as systems integrators, and in some cases, integrators are entering the sector from other industries. This is a critical time for the advanced energy storage industry – in order for the industry to mature and scale up, more systems integrators are needed, says Navigant.

Navigant’s report, "Energy Storage Tracker 3Q13" includes a database of all the projects in the world.

Since energy storage businesses can’t find people with the necessary skills, San Jose State University is starting Battery University this summer. 

Support from Department of Energy (DOE), FERC

DOE’s ARPA-E program has $120 million for its Batteries and Energy Storage Hub, launched last year, to "develop radically new scientific approaches." The goal is to develop technology that provides five times the energy storage achievable today at 20% of the price by 2017. 

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is facilitating use of energy storage through pricing of technologies and ensuring fair market access. 

Also, legislation has been introduced that would give a 30% tax investment tax credit to businesses that install storage technology.

You can keep up with energy storage projects worldwide through DOE’s database. So far, 420 projects are listed, representing 123 GW installed.  More than 50 storage technologies are covered in 34 countries. There’s also a policy section that tracks federal and state policies:

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