For what has felt like too long to count, the world of technology has tried and repeatedly failed to make any distinct progress in establishing a range of fully-functioning energy storage solutions. But now, finally, things are set to change.
As the world of technology continues to mercilessly hurtle forward, the energy storage industry finds itself poised on the cusp of exciting new times. Worldwide demand for energy storage is prominent, the technology required for it to function is now widely available, and the progress of storage solutions is now visibly apparent.
Energy storage is an exciting energy sector that’s set to expand and escalate on a staggering scale over the next few years. Projections from a range of respected research companies and heavyweight financial institutions suggest that this may be the most revolutionary facet to emerge from within the energy industry in recent history.
ENERGY STORAGE AND BATTERY TECHNOLOGY
Energy storage is currently being developed and utilised in a variety of different forms including pumped hydro energy storage, compressed air energy storage, thermal energy storage and electrochemical energy storage. The most common of the electrochemical variety is of course, battery technology, which itself is apparent in several different forms.
A variety of types of battery technology are jostling for space in the market, with lithium-ion batteries the apparent front-runner for the time being. Flow batteries are also turning heads, yet the real value seems to lie in lead acid batteries – which are astounding in terms of their ability to store energy, and exciting in terms of potential for development and expansion.
Lead acid battery energy storage systems have proven their worth when used in locations requiring a steady, frequent and dependable flow of energy such as hospitals, and are often available as a cheaper alternative to the likes of lithium-ion batteries. Energy storage by means of battery technology has a bright future, and may realistically provide a reliant flow of energy – something that’s been sought after for years.
HOMES AS MICRO-GRIDS
For developing countries, energy access can be a troublesome issue. Mostly due to the inadequate systems available in these regions to draw sufficient power from an all-encompassing electricity grid. Energy storage technology could provide these countries with a solution to their access issues, offering the kind of energy required to operate self-reliant systems (or micro-grids) without the need to solely rely on tiringly limited access to main electricity grids.
Whilst grid-scale energy storage is not quite a worldwide reality yet, it remains a viable solution potentially capable of balancing supply and demand issues that have plagued certain countries.
Given the rapidly expanding technology in this area, it appears to only be a matter of years before the first real steps toward self-sufficient large-scale micro-grids are into deep stages of development. Even now, single homes are able to be transformed into self-reliant micro-grids through the use of energy storage systems. GTM Research has issued a statement predicting that home energy storage by means of battery technology will expand into a one billion dollar industry within the next three years.
The expansion of the energy storage sector encourages renewable energy use. Homeowners who have the ability to re-use their own energy time and time again will have little need or desire to return to the traditional – and ultimately damaging – forms of environment poluting energy such as coal, oil and gas. The increasing development of energy storage technologies means that ordinary folk are just a matter of years away from being able to generate, store, and use their very own energy. An incredibly exciting prospect for both the environment and early investors in the sector.
POTENTIAL & GROWTH FOR ENERGY STORAGE SYSTEMS
Recent economic statistics prove that the incorporation and widespread use of energy storage systems will not be used on global scale overnight, but what they do suggest is that these technologies are all set for huge expansion and massive growth in the very near future.
Just weeks ago, premium energy juggernauts Tesla, publicly announced their intention to enter the energy storage market for utility-grade grid storage. Elsewhere, Duke Energy have erected a lead acid battery storage facility in Texas, and are also currently in the process of constructing an air compressed energy storage compound in the state of Utah.
Indeed, examinations of how to store energy on larger scales are being seriously examined and developed by the big-wigs at the top of noteworthy energy corporations, with several automobile manufacturing kingpins also making moves within the market in recent months. Nissan and Endesa have decided to co-operate as part of a deal that allows car users to sell any idle power stored in their vehicles back to the grid for use on a bigger scale, whereas BMW are instigating a thoughtful investigation into how used electric car batteries can be reconfigured into energy storage packs.
The finance industry have also sounded off about battery-powered energy storage technology. Investment bank UBS has led the way with a claim that the energy industry is all set to be turned “upside-down” within the next 10-20 years by the evolution and development of solar power and batteries. A huge range of other major financial companies, banks and institutions have followed suit, and whilst each of them have issued clashing cost projections, every statement from HSBC, Bank of America, UBS, Goldman Sachs and Barclays shares the belief that solar/battery energy storage systems are ultimately set to take over the entire energy industry, and forever change the long relationship between utility provider and customer.
A new report from Navigant Research analysing the global market for energy storage enabling technologies, has suggested that the revenue from these energy storage systems is set to surpass the $21 billion mark by the year of 2024. This is a huge rise, given that the industry currently sits at around $605 million annually. The exclusive report from Navigant Research details and evaluates the energy storage enabling technologies across four separate market sectors labelled as utility-scale storage, community storage, residential storage, and commercial storage.
Their analysis points to the fact that whilst electricity is typically consumed immediately after it is created, the industry is changing in exciting new ways that allow this energy to be stored and gathered for later use, and that the distribution of the market among energy storage enabling technologies will most likely lean toward systems integration.
Of course, manufacturing strategies play a huge role in the ability to actively reduce costs, and as the market grows, the supply chain will respond accordingly. The world is demanding these kind of energy storage systems, and the projections made by Navigant Research suggest that it is only a matter of time before they become a formidable force within the energy industry.
THE NEW FUTURE
Oil prices have a reputation for rising and falling in a somewhat erratic manner. Whilst snatching up this fossil fuel when costs tumble down can save money in the short-term, sitting there twiddling your thumbs until oil prices plummet again is not a financially viable long-term solution for energy companies and subsequently homeowners.
A cost-efficient future appears to lie in battery technology energy storage, which can run entire households as the homeowner generates their own power and can keep some aside for later use. Why endure the excruciating wait for oil prices to dip when you can store your very own energy for less? Energy storage provides homeowners with a long-term solution for a constant supply of energy, and allows them to do their bit for the carbon footprint whilst they’re at it.
On a larger scale, energy storage technology provides company owners with the opportunity to use their own energy when and where they want to. It offers them a considerable amount of freedom in a market where energy use is often strictly limited by governmental and financial regulations or access issues.
The ability to store vast amounts of energy may not be truly viable on a large scale for several years. But given that energy storage systems are potentially able to increase the efficiency and flexibility of energy use for electricity grids, it is little wonder that corporate energy giants are looking to invest and get a strong, early foothold within this new energy sector.
The ability to hold and store high quantities of energy for later use is no longer merely an exciting prospect, it is bordering on reality. At long last, all the signs, data, finance reports and statistics are there to suggest a mouth-watering future for energy storage systems. These are, without doubt, exciting times.