Utility-Scale Energy Storage to Reach Nearly 150 GW by 2015

Renewable energy sources like wind power typically are intermittent by their very nature; solar power facilities don’t generate electricity at night, and wind turbines can’t produce when the wind doesn’t blow.

The electrical grid needs reliable power generating resources that are steady and predictable, to best service anticipated electrical demand. That’s where storage comes in; energy generated from renewable sources can be stored during peak generation times, and fed into the grid when it’s dark or the wind stops.

A new ABI Research market study, “Renewable Energy Storage,” forecasts that utility-scale energy storage worldwide will increase to nearly 150 GW (150,000 MW) by 2015, growing at a CAGR of 2.6% through the 2010-2015 forecast period.

Says research director Larry Fisher, “Over the next five years, multiple government-funded demonstration projects worldwide will help advance a number of energy storage technologies by validating their ability to optimize power. These include lithium-ion batteries, molten salt thermal energy storage, and lead-carbon batteries. Further, as energy storage costs decline with increasing production of these technologies, particularly with batteries, costs will be more in line with current sources of energy production, which will boost their acceptance by the utility community.”

Fisher adds, “Over the coming decade, as countries across the globe strive to meet their renewable energy targets, they will come to understand the need for energy-oriented storage. However, while such storage will serve to keep power costs low in the long run, each such implementation requires hundreds of millions of dollars to install and test, which will create a near-term rise in end-user electrical rates.”

Renewable Energy Storage examines a number of novel energy storage technologies that will aid utilities in the coming years, including compressed air energy storage (CAES), pumped hydroelectric storage, molten salt thermal energy storage, supercapacitors, and sodium-sulfur batteries.