Energy storage on track to best 2015's record-setting growth



Navigant Research's third quarter report sees a growing role for residential installations

Critics called 2015 a "banner year" for energy storage.

Now after a year of unprecedented growth, energy storage could be poised to best that performance, according to Navigant Research’s third quarter energy storage tracker.

“The North American market this year definitely has the potential to surpass the deployed capacity in 2015, especially considering how quickly new projects are being built today,” Ian McClenny, a research associate at Navigant, said.

Navigant projections show the North American storage market reaching just above 300 MW by year end.

A total of 221 MW (161 MWh) of energy storage was deployed in 2015 compared with 65 MW (86 MWh) in 2014, according to the Energy Storage Association.

Among the key drivers in the storage market, according to Navigant, are the proliferation of distributed, intermittent generation sources such as solar and wind power, which require increased load balancing, and the restructuring of electricity markets that will create new value streams for energy storage.

Among the notable developments so far this year is an increase in storage projects that use flow batteries and hybrid battery systems, the authors said, citing a Duke Energy project in North Carolina that combines a hybrid Aquion battery and a Maxwell Technologies ultracapcitor that will be used to fill both short and long duration energy needs from the single site at Duke’s Rankin substation.

The report also noted that distributed energy storage, which includes both behind-the-meter residential storage and community energy storage installations, accounted for about 14.2% of new the new storage installations so far this year, the highest percentage of any year yet.

Distributed energy storage systems (DESS), which includes C&I and microgrid installations, also accounted for 45.6% of the storage installations so far this year with the remainder, 54.4%, of the market comprised of utility scale installations.

In 2015, about 81% of the installations deployed in North America were utility-scale, and the remainder, about 19%, were distributed installations.

“This trend is expected to continue in the coming years as DESSs become increasingly cost-effective and productized, leading to more streamlined installation and opening new markets,” the Navigant researchers said.

In a separate report, Navigant noted that the U.S. residential market for energy storage is growing quickly, but that utility involvement will be crucial for further growth.

On an aggregate basis, Navigant said residential storage is on track to hit between 20 MW and 25 MW by year end, of which about 75% will be installed in 2016. By 2025, Navigant expects residential storage to total 750 MW.

Behind that growth is the expansion of the residential solar installations, falling system costs, and a desire to improve resiliency.