Energy Storage: Charging Ahead in 2018

Guest Blog | December 28, 2017 | Energy Policy
US Annual Energy Storage Deployment Forecast, 2012-2022E (MW), GTM Research and Energy Storage Association, 2017
US Annual Energy Storage Deployment Forecast, 2012-2022E (MW), GTM Research and Energy Storage Association, 2017

GTM Research and the Energy Storage Association recently released a new report on the energy storage market. Due to the rapidly declining price of energy storage (predominately batteries), the report states that nearly 300 megawatts of energy storage is expected to be deployed in 2017 – a 28% increase over 2016. Large, utility-scale battery deployments are leading market deployments. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, lithium-ion battery prices have declined over 70% since 2010.

While the industry growth rate is shockingly good news, the real story is where energy storage is beginning to take hold. States like Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana and Florida are evaluating storage options in integrated resource plans, pilot programs, and through energy storage procurement. Some examples are listed below.

  • Duke Florida plans to add 50 MW of battery storage.
  • Kentucky Power’s IRP has plans for adding 10 MW of battery storage by 2025.
  • Duke Energy in North Carolina will install a 9 MW battery system in transmission-constrained Asheville.
  • West Virginia’s Laurel Mountain wind farm has a co-located 32 MW / 8 MWh lithium-ion battery system.
  • Duke Energy’s Notrees Windpower Project in western Texas is upgrading from lead-acid batteries to a 36 MW lithium-ion system.
  • Southern Company is testing a 1 MW / 2 MWh lithium-ion battery system in Cedartown, Georgia.
  • Southern Company and Gulf Power are testing a 250 kW / 1 MWh Tesla Powerpack in Pensacola, Florida.
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee’s Electric Power Board (EPB) has energized a 100kW/400kWh Vanadium flow battery.
  • Entergy New Orleans paired its new 1 MW solar PV facility with a 500 kWh lithium-ion battery system.
  • Arkansas Electric Cooperative Company began evaluating battery storage in 2015 for its IRP.
  • Dominion Energy (Virginia) has an IRP that evaluates battery storage, and even pumped-hydro storage.

Granted, we are accustomed to the storage discussion being acceptable in the expected places – high cost regions with goals or mandates; however, the South, a historically low-cost region, has a fairly long history of energy storage projects. The Tennessee Valley Authority’s Raccoon Mountain pumped hydro station is one of the largest in the country. The project has been operational for nearly 40 years, with a net capacity of 1,652 MW. Power South, a cooperative utility in Alabama, operates the nation’s only compressed-air energy storage system. The 110 MW CAES system was installed in McIntosh, Alabama, in 1991.

We’ve seen this before: an emerging technology becomes cost competitive, and then adoption occurs rather rapidly. It happened with wind, and then with solar, and now energy storage is following a similar trajectory.

Energy storage has a number of unique attributes that are creating significant interest. For example, battery storage and other energy storage devices have a fast ramp rate, and in both directions – meaning energy storage devices can quickly absorb excess renewable energy, and then discharge that same energy when renewable resources are less available. Also, energy storage can provide frequency and voltage support almost instantaneously, which is very difficult (and costly) for virtually all power plants. Storage can provide peaking power, an exceptionally valuable energy resource. As costs decline, energy storage could also provide large scale diurnal or seasonal load shifting capabilities.

Never-the-less,  the energy storage industry is still quite young. Much of the industry is diligently trying to tease out all the possible value streams and propositions provided by quick-acting, low-cost storage options. The Rocky Mountain Institute has evaluated at least thirteen distinct values that battery storage can provide, to a variety of energy users. Some electric utility market structures were conceived well before large-scale energy storage options were foreseen, so some market reforms may be necessary. Also, basic industrial jargon will need to be ironed out and explained to potential utility customers, and their regulators.

But 2018 is already shaping up to be a very interesting year for energy storage. Stay plugged in.

Economics of Battery Energy Storage, Rocky Mountain Institute, 2017
Economics of Battery Energy Storage, Rocky Mountain Institute, 2017
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