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Energy Storage in United States to Double this Year

Tesla

Much like improvements to solar PV efficiency and commensurate drops in costs of solar panels have been one of the key stories of the past decade that spelled out the path to rapid deployment, energy storage is poised to follow this same path in the coming decade. The combination of solar (or other intermittent renewables) plus storage has many across the energy and utilities industries excited for the possibility of a transformation across the U.S. grid. 

However, as with all emerging technologies, some of these forecasts are turned a critical eye and determined to be overly optimistic or unrealistic. This push/pull is a natural reaction as information continues to become available and R&D continually rolls out, but the best place to look is at the recent trends to determine how founded the optimism is. For that reason, this recent report about how the U.S. grid-tied energy storage market is going to double this year was particularly interesting to see. 

This analysis coming from IHS Markit came to the following conclusions:

  • U.S. grid-tied energy storage market poised to nearly double from 376 MW last year to 712 MW this year (includes transmission connected project & behind the meter storage)
  • The U.S. will thus pass South Korea as the largest grid-tied energy storage market in the world
  • From 2019-2023, nearly 5 GW is expected to be added (90% of which is Lithium-ion)
  • Big source of this growth over next few years is batteries coupled with utility-scale solar as those will account for 40% of battery deployments (2 GW total)

How do these numbers strike you? Reason for excitement? Overblown? Work still to be done? Are we on the right path?

Matt Chester's picture

Thank Matt for the Post!

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on May 28, 2019

"How do these numbers strike you? Reason for excitement? Overblown? Work still to be done? Are we on the right path?"

Matt, these numbers strike me as worthless advertising - like we're probably on the right path if we ignore them.

How does hype from "IHS Markit", a report-for-hire, non-peer-reviewed source, strike you?

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on May 28, 2019

Your skepticism is noted, Bob. I know you find energy storage technology is only there to enable the gas industry, but if you don't think the market growth they forecast is going to come into being how short do you predict the market will fall?

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on May 29, 2019

Matt honestly, I've never seen a model for powering a grid with renewables + storage that was remotely close to meeting the goals expected of it.

Are we expecting a grid with "two-nines" reliability (99.99% uptime)? Then we'll need enough to cover all but the longest periods of cloudy, calm days - the .01% outliers. Might be possible in the Sonoran Desert; for Los Angeles alone, batteries would cost over $1 trillion at today's prices, and would need to be replaced every decade (it wouldn't be affordable in either location). Then in L.A., we'd need to have enough renewable generation to both charge the batteries, and power our city at the same time.

We'd need a new grid which, instead of efficiently distributing electricity from a central generating point to multiple locations, can efficiently distribute electricity from here to there, and there to here - so that cloudy, calm weather in one can be powered by sunny, windy weather in another. Somehow, that's going to magically pop into existence, and complexity will somehow become an engineering solution instead of the headache it's been in the past. We'll need a grid for everyone, so that people of lesser means will have the same access to electricity as the rich.

When someone shows me a detailed model, incorporating transmission, storage, and generation, tracking supply, demand, and weather over time; how all this will come together, I'll believe it's possible. And more importantly, that it's practical: that even those who don't live on rarefied desert ranches in New Mexico - those living in townhomes in New Jersey, f'rinstance - can afford to pay for the electricity coming out of their wall too. No one has a model. Probably, because it isn't possible, or practical.

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