Energy Storage for Commercial Buildings to Reach $5 Billion by 2016

Generally speaking, electricity is cheap to generate and expensive to store. As a result, the debate over whether energy storage in commercial buildings is cost-effective continues; nevertheless, some businesses are busy installing it in market niches where they have created successful business models. Buildings represent a large portion of total energy consumption, and many commercial users are actively seeking ways of managing their energy costs through efficiency measures, demand response technology, variable electricity pricing structures, and smart technology for building systems such as heating, cooling, and lighting. All of these are helping drive heightened interest in the opportunity for energy storage in commercial buildings.

According to a recent report from Pike Research, the market for energy storage in commercial buildings is poised for significant growth in the years ahead. In 2016, the cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts, total revenue from energy storage systems will reach at least $4.9 billion. Under a more aggressive, high-growth scenario, total energy storage revenue for commercial buildings could reach $6.7 billion.

"Energy storage gives a building owner the means to buy energy when it is less valuable and use it when it is more valuable," says research analyst Eric Bloom. "The ability to manage operating expenses in the face of aggressive demand charges and dynamic pricing schemes, which are on the rise throughout North America, presents a compelling opportunity for building owners and managers."

Today the main energy storage applications in commercial buildings are backup power and time shifting, using thermal energy storage (TES). While these will continue to lead the market in the foreseeable future, significant opportunity also exists for commercial buildings to utilize flow batteries and lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries for energy storage as the economics of those technologies continue to improve. The total potential value of various benefits to building occupants of energy storage — in terms of reliability of electricity, power quality, firming the capacity of renewables, and so on — could reach the $150 billion range over the next decade, although the actual value of the market will likely be smaller than the potential.

Pike Research’s report, "Energy Storage in Commercial Buildings", 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. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm’s website.