Energy Storage Is Rising in Popularity Despite COVID-19 Setbacks
Up until a few years ago, energy storage was expensive. Many thought it a poorly understood, niche technology.
But technology marches on. And battery energy storage technology does as well.
Prices for this tech are dropping. And energy densities and demand are increasing.
Energy storage is big. And it’s about to get even bigger.
2020 was shaping up to be a record-breaking year for the U.S. energy storage sector. And it started out strong.
The first quarter saw residential energy storage rise a record 10%.
Then the coronavirus hit.
In April, residential energy storage fell 40% from March’s level.
I’m not surprised. There aren’t many sectors that have dodged the pandemic.
But you can bet that slowdown will be short-lived.
The pandemic’s effect on utility-scale orders and installations has been relatively minor.
And continued work on major utility energy storage projects will more than double 2019’s $712 million figure.
Some U.S. states still have little or no energy storage operating. But that is quickly changing…
Because battery prices continue to fall. And that’s starting to catch policymakers’ attention.
Right now, most state legislatures around the country have yet to enact any energy storage deployment targets. Only California, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Virginia have them.
As the economics of energy storage become widely known, however, more states will enact storage targets.
But who will benefit from the buildout of energy storage assets?
You will, being the energy-using American you are. Most Americans are tied to a grid.
For you, there are many long-term benefits of this enabling technology.
For instance, there’s nothing more reliable than a power source backed up by batteries. Our landline telephone system is a century-old example.
There’s no reason power grids can’t have a battery backup too. We’ve all felt helpless when the grid has gone down.
And consumers will be able to save money as energy storage gets rid of the need for dirty, pricey and fossil-fuel-burning peaker plants.
Energy storage is also very convenient. Once you store electricity, you can use it whenever you want. That’s the beauty of it.
And utilities can now rapidly switch battery power on and off. This type of control is new for them.
Having the ability to “smooth” out power waveforms is huge. Today’s electronics last a lot longer using clean power.
Additionally, energy storage works well with renewable sources. Whenever solar or wind produces excess energy, that extra energy can be used to charge batteries.
And as utilities’ renewable assets grow, more energy storage maximizes their use. For utilities, storage can act as a generation, transmission or distribution asset. Sometimes it can be all three at once.
Many users, such as hospitals, law enforcement and data centers, need constant power. But even the fastest diesel-powered backup generators take 15 to 30 seconds to come online.
Having access to stored energy can mean the difference between life and death. Or between safe and lost data.
Today, the U.S. utility-scale energy storage market is the world’s largest. It’s also the fastest-growing.
I expect it will maintain that position. In fact, I believe the growth of the energy storage market here and around the world is set to rev up.
I will continue to report on it here. And I’ll be sure to discuss investment opportunities in this sector in the future.
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