Clean Power

Published on July 22nd, 2011 | by Andrew


Utility Scale Electricity Storage Ramps Up with Growing Renewable Energy Use

July 22nd, 2011 by  

Global sales of utility-scale electricity storage (UES) technology will grow at a 36.6% compound annual rate (CAGR) over the next five years, from $3.9 billion in 2010 to $18.5 billion in 2015, as the drive to incorporate renewable power supplies into grids and build outs of transmission interconnections and smart grids accelerates, according to a BCC Research forecast.

Sales of UES technology will grow fastest in North America, BCC forecasts, increasing at a CAGR of 86.2%. UES sales in Europe will grow at a 41% CAGR, while sales in Asia/Australia will grow at a 21.7% CAGR.

Come 2015, according to BCC:

  • UES sales in Asia/Australia, valued at $2.7 billion in 2010, will total nearly $7.2 billion;
  • UES sales in Europe will increase from nearly $1 billion to $5.3 billion;
  • UES sales in North America will increase from $272 million to $6.1 billion.

Utilities are investing heavily in developing innovative large-scale electricity storage systems as global demand for electricity is expected to rise for at least the next two decades, with renewable energy sources expected to supply a much higher percentage of total generating capacity. Government and international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as other environmental pollutants, such as mercury and heavy metals, are also spurring investment.

The resulting need to store electricity, both at utility and smaller scales, balance electricity demand and supply from intermittent clean and renewable sources, such as wind and solar, and modulate frequency and voltage, is driving innovation in the field.

One recent example of the innovations being commercialized is Beacon Power’s recently commissioned, 20-megawatt (MW) Flywheel Energy Storage System (FESS), which will shore up New York’s electricity grid by providing fast response frequency regulation.

“Our Stephentown project is under budget and performing extremely well, proving that Beacon’s flywheel technology can deliver an essential grid reliability service while reducing the need for fossil fuel-based regulation resources and cutting greenhouse gas emissions,” Judith Judson, Beacon Power vice president of asset management and market development, commented.

Graphic courtesy of BCC Research

See these related stories:

  1. World’s First Solar Power Plant that Works at Night Constructed
  2. Wind Power In Europe MORE Reliable than Nuclear Power in Japan
  3. “Drill, Baby, Drill” Can Store Gigawatts of Renewable Energy

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About the Author

I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.

  • Electric38

    We don’t want utility scale operations. We want the average American citizen and small business to be the direct benefactor of the free energy of the sun. Why should we pay an “expensive middleman”?

    Get behind the development of solar ink and mass produced solar printing presses that can incorporate the “plug and play” installation technologies that are now coming to market.

    Low income, senior and the disabled population need to be first in line for the free energy of the sun. Quit trying to put a meter on our natural resources. The long term positive effect on the economy will be stronger if the entire consumer market is allowed to participate in the fair disbursement of new technologies.

    The electric car market becomes much more affordable to the people listed above, if they can use the free energy from our sun for transportation.

    • Anonymous

      Requiring each individual/household/business to be a standalone utility company is not a workable solution. Most people simply don’t want to put out the effort, even if it might save them a few dollars a month (which it probably wouldn’t).

      You’d be asking every individual user to not only find a place in the sun to put their solar panels, but also to acquire and maintain storage as well as backup power.

      And distributing things ‘thinly’ is not financially efficient.

      There’s a certain romance about all of us unplugging from the grid, but it reality, it’s not the best way to get us off of fossil fuels quickly.

      What makes sense, to me, is to put some panels on your roof if you live in a place with adequate sun and pay enough for your TOU/high tier electricity. But as a society it makes more sense to put our money into larger scale (roofs of large buildings/parking lot) solar arrays and into other renewable power generation along with enough storage and backup generation to make it all work.

      It’s not about putting a meter on our natural resources, it’s about making the most efficient use of our resources to bring power to all at the best price possible.

      • Mark Lively

        I think Bob and Electric 38 can both be accommodated, if we set prices in a way that allows Electric 38 to do his thing and get paid for doing it as well as paying the consequences of his impact on the grid. If we use the grid as a battery, sometimes the value of electricity might be $120/MWH and sometimes it might only be $5/MWH. If Electric 38 stores electricity when the value is $5/MWH and uses it when the value is $120/MWH, Electric 38 should be paying the $115/MWH differential. If Electric 38 has good timing, then the opposite is true and Electric 38 enjoys that differential.

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