Energy storage in US expected to triple capacity by 2020

Encompassing a variety of technologies that are used in diverse applications with the primary goal of storing thermal energy for use at a later time, thermal energy storage (TES) has been used commercially for many decades, largely to shift peak energy use into lower-cost periods.

TES is also used to enhance electricity production at concentrated solar power (CSP) plants, by storing heat for later power generation. According to a new report from Pike Research, a part of Navigant’s Energy Practice, a sharp increase in interest in energy storage will open new opportunities for thermal storage, and the market for TES will see steady growth over the next several years. Installed TES capacity in the United States, which stood at 2.7 gigawatts (GW) in 2011, will increase by 4.5 GW by 2020, nearly tripling to a total of 7.2 GW, the report concludes.

“With the exception of pumped hydroelectric storage, which dwarfs the installed capacity of all other commercially available energy storage technologies, TES is currently the most common form of storage available,” says research director Kerry-Ann Adamson. “Although other storage media, especially batteries, are expected to grow significantly faster than TES, TES revenue will continue to increase with global revenue from new TES installations forecast to surpass $3.5 billion by 2020.”

The TES market in Europe will likely see the strongest growth, according to the report. Given the European Union’s heavy emphasis on energy efficiency initiatives and the rise in volatile renewable electricity generation, TES should have strong potential in this market. Under a conservative estimate of 2020 market activity, Pike Research forecasts that there will be about 19 GW of cumulative TES installations in Europe by the end of the decade, equaling 2 GW of new capacity per year by 2020.

The report, “Thermal Energy Storage”, analyzes the market for thermal energy storage, concentrating on five major applications that currently define the commercial marketplace for thermal storage: thermal storage for heating, ventilation and air conditioning in commercial buildings; district energy systems for cooling and, in some cases, heating; turbine inlet cooling to limit generation power losses; utility and grid support applications; and high-temperature storage at concentrated solar power generation facilities. In addition to comparing TES technologies and examining the drivers and barriers for the TES market, the study includes profiles of more than two dozen key industry players as well as forecasts for revenue and capacity through 2020. An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the Pike Research website.