Next Five Years: 4x the Energy Storage (Maybe)

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Energy Storage Quadruple

Energy storage is always an issue, whether it’s storing enough power to run an electric car or storing enough solar-generated electricity to supply power while the sun isn’t shining. KEMA, a global energy consultancy company headquartered in the Netherlands, recently released a report analyzing U.S. energy storage over the next five years. In a nutshell, the market is expected to quadruple.

The study was requested by the Copper Development Association, in order to determine what impact changes in storage tech will have on copper. Its findings are a bit broader than that, however. The study made two different forecasts as to how much (or little) storage tech would expand based on whether or not a tax incentive would become available (last year’s U.S. Storage Act, S. 1845 proposed just such an incentive).

Expand, Expand, Expand

Current energy storage capacity is mostly one of two options. The first is thermal storage, or maintaining a thermal reservoir above or below ambient temperature – storing energy as heat – which accounts for roughly 1,000 megawatts of current capacity. The second is from renewables generation; either as pumped hydro – water moved from lower to higher elevation – which accounts for 115 megawatts, or compressed air energy storage, which accounts for 500 megawatts.

KEMA’s report says that the biggest growth will be in neither of these technologies, but in distributed storage. In other words, ancillary services for the existing grid and also technology and applications that help integrate renewable energy into the grid.

Get Tax Credit, Invest More

Whether or not a tax incentive is available will likely have a massive effect on storage tech expansion, KEMA found. Total growth of storage capacity without a tax incentive is projected to be around 626 megawatts (mainly in thermal storage and batteries). With tax incentives, that growth is projected to be 2,300 megawatts – and that mainly in technology for integrating renewable power with the grid.

KEMA estimates that the current political climate makes no incentive the most likely outcome. I, however, can only hope that they’re mistaken on this one prediction; clean power generation is tremendously important, and power storage helps integrate energy from renewable sources into the grid.

Comments or questions? Let us know below.

Source: Green Tech Media | Image: Wikimedia Commons

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