There are many dramatic changes taking place to energy policy in the United States in recent years. But it’s pretty plain to see that energy storage is positioned to have its biggest year yet. As utilities plan to decarbonize their systems, many see the current boom in natural gas generation as a “bridge” to a low-carbon future — providing dispatchable power to balance out intermittent renewables on their systems. Continued advancements in battery technology, however, could make that bridge shorter than many anticipated. Here’s a quick look at how energy storage will grow this year.

Energy Storage Around the Globe

As more renewable energy sources are incorporated into the power generation mix, the need for energy storage capabilities becomes quickly apparent. In this industry, it’s critical to understand how storage works and where it will bring the most benefit.

Trials and demonstrations have been taking place around the globe duringthe past year (not just in the U.S., but in the U.K. and elsewhere as well.) Each project was designed with the intention of exploring and optimizing energy storage to increase the reliability and cost-effectiveness of renewable energy. One demonstration project in Texas, sought to develop training and education about storage for utilities, while another in Hawaii identified how aggregated storage can form virtual power plants. Proposals for trials in New York were requested in order to optimize commercially available technologies. In the U.K., a trial began to source and optimize recycled electric vehicle batteries for homeowners, and in Australia, a trial now is underway to highlight the benefits of storage combined with solar in remote communities.

These trials are just a small piece of the puzzle in how energy stakeholders are building up knowledge surrounding the many different options for storing energy and where storage can support renewables development. Over the coming years, we can continue to expect to see a variety of new trials and demonstrations and also the results of completed and ongoing projects. This information will pave the way for future renewable energy projects and influence policy decisions as well. The value of renewable energy is increasingly dependent on the stability and resiliency of a green and renewable power grid.

Solar and Wind +

One particular trend that has been popularized in recent years is that of solar plus storage. Its benefits include added stability for solar-based energy generation for homeowners, and even big industry disrupters like Tesla, who in 2017, opened their New York showroom for electric vehicles, solar rooftop systems, and batteries. The successes of these localized projects have wide sweeping impacts for the energy market, including the utility-scale wind plus storage movement which is quickly following in the footsteps of solar.

Utilities and renewable energy developers in the U.S., France, Spain and Sweden announced last year that they either started or have completed projects that integrate batteries with wind power projects in their portfolios. Offshore wind is also part of the movement. With the global wind power fleet growing older, we can expect to hear additional announcements come out this year regarding energy storage integration with wind as part of the repowering of aging wind farms.

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