Energy Storage in Commercial Buildings

The market momentum toward greater energy efficiency in commercial buildings, the proliferation of smart grid technologies, and the growth of renewable energy installations both on a distributed basis as well as at the utility scale are all driving heightened interest in the opportunity for energy storage in commercial buildings. Buildings represent a large portion of total energy consumption and many of their occupants are actively seeking ways of better managing their energy costs through efficiency measures as well as innovative means of optimizing their expenditures under time of use (TOU) electricity rates and other variable pricing structures.

While uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) are currently the most common form of energy storage in commercial buildings, thermal energy storage (TES) technologies are capable of storing a comparable amount of energy. Each TES system has large storage capacity, to shift hours of cooling load in large buildings and campuses, from on-peak to off-peak periods. The wholesale cost to utilities for on-peak electricity is higher, compared to off-peak. Some regional regulations allow utilities to pass this cost difference to their commercial customers, with demand charges and/or TOU rates. A utility customer can use an energy storage system to manage this cost. This application requires thousands of cycles per lifetime, multiple hours of duration per cycle, and a cost-effective price. In some markets, these requirements are met by TES and by flow batteries now, and possibly by lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries in a few years.

This Pike Research report explores the market potential for energy storage in commercial buildings including an examination of market issues, technology issues, and the competitive landscape in this emerging sector. Market forecasts are provided for uninterruptible power supplies and thermal energy storage in commercial buildings, and key industry players are profiled in depth.