Energy Storage Summit Portends a Market Ready for Mainstream AdoptionBack to Top
Through Sept. 30, some 108 MW (94 MWh) of energy storage had been deployed in the U.S. alone this year, GTM Research data show. Compare that with the 38 MW/65 MWh deployed through the same period in 2014, and you can see why the excitement over energy storage is growing as fast as the market is.
You could actually feel the verve last week at GreenTech Media’s U.S. Energy Storage Summit, which drew an “oversubscribed” 550-600 attendees that included a good mix of utilities, utility customers, consultants, manufacturers, and folks from the finance industry. The short, two-day conference was well put together and highlighted a number of existing energy storage projects, including the 7 MW/3 MWh project in Minster, Ohio.
During a Dec. 8 “case study” presentation, I shared the stage with several key players in that project. Donald Harrod, for 22 years the village’s administrator, described how the energy storage project has allowed Minster to become more “green” by co-locating it with a 4.4 MW photovoltaic (PV) array. Minster’s getting significant generation from this PV plant, which will become that much more effective with the addition of energy storage.
I also was honored to share the stage with Michael Hastings, CEO of Half Moon Ventures (HMV), which awarded S&C the project to supply and build the 7-MW energy storage facility. Michael detailed how the project was put together, from the financing and development perspective. We also talked about the multiple value streams flowing from the PV project—some to HMV and some to the Village of Minster. It’s was a very unique and well-received case study.
Also extensively discussed during the summit was the growing size of the energy storage market and how the costs for storage are getting pretty close in line with what’s needed for the market to thrive. However, there is still work to be done on the value side. Energy storage, when properly valued through revised regulation and rate structures, would make sense economically in more markets today if its value were allowed to flow to the multiple stakeholders, including those involved in transmission, distribution, and generation, and, of course, the utility customers.
Considerable time was spent discussing how much storage could do. While describing how to capture all that value, the expectation was that energy storage in the not-so-distant future will displace very inefficient peaker plants, enabling all of that additional generation required during peak demand to be brought online via storage instead—and very quickly and efficiently.
Investment tax credits for solar projects also were a hot topic. Though the credits expire at the end of next year, the expectation was Congress most likely would extend them. The industry also would welcome tax incentives to support standalone energy storage. Right now, you can claim an investment tax credit if the storage is charged almost exclusively from a renewable energy source, such as PV panels or wind. But there is a push afoot from the Energy Storage Association, where I sit on the board, to allow the credits for standalone energy storage, regardless of whether a battery is charged by a renewable source.
In 2016, energy storage will continue its march into the broader distribution-utility deployment structure. People are really starting to see that it can make economic sense for various applications. I see those numbers of applications growing as more people understand the value energy storage brings to the table. The technology hurdle, I believe, has been overcome. However, we still need to overcome some of these valuation and regulatory hurdles to really get the energy storage market humming at its inevitable sustainable pace.
December 17, 2015