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Report: 2015 Will Be a 'Breakout Year' for U.S. Energy Storage

Words by Andrew Burger
Leadership & Transparency

2015 looks set to be a milestone year for advanced energy storage solutions. Some 220 megawatts worth of energy storage capacity will be deployed across the nation in 2015 – more than three times the 2014 total, according to an inaugural market research report from GTM Research and the Energy Storage Association (ESA). The organizations see growth continuing “at a rapid clip thereafter."

The number of grid-connected electrochemical and electromechanical storage installations that came on-line in 2014 totaled 61.9 megawatts of power capacity, the organizations found, up 40 percent from 44.2 MW in 2013. One leading distributed energy storage pioneer delivered over a third of the total.

Emeryville, California's Greensmith develops grid-scale and customer-sited “behind the meter” energy storage solutions. The company is now using its fourth-generation GEMS platform to manage five advanced energy storage systems, “including the single largest battery-based power system deployed globally in 2014.” That system provides 24/7 frequency regulation services for an independent regional U.S. grid operator.

“On the cusp of a breakout year”

“The U.S. is on the cusp of a breakout year for energy storage,” according to the authors of the inaugural U.S. Energy Storage Monitor report.

Utility deployments dominated the fast emerging U.S. market for advanced energy storage systems in 2014, accounting for 90 percent of newly-installed capacity. So-called “behind the meter” installations at utility customer sites – commercial and industrial companies, government facilities, schools, hospitals and municipalities – made up 10 percent of the 2014 total.

But installations of “behind the meter” energy storage systems picked up sharply in the fourth quarter of 2014, GTM and ESA note. Going forward, GTM expects behind-the-meter installations will account for 45 percent of the overall market by 2019.

Advanced energy storage system deployments are also concentrated in states that have and/or are in the process of instituting market regulatory reforms and supportive policies, including mandates and incentive programs. GTM and ESA singled out California and states where PJM is responsible for grid operations and management – all or part of 13 states across the eastern U.S. and the District of Columbia – as early leaders.

“The U.S. energy storage market is nascent, but we expect it to pick up more speed this year,” GTM Research SVP Shayle Kann was quoted in a Greentech Media news report. “Attractive economics already exist across a broad array of applications, and system costs are in rapid decline. We expect some fits and starts but significant overall growth for the market in 2015.”

A technology-agnostic approach

Based in Emeryville, California, Greensmith is responsible for delivering a third of the advanced energy storage capacity brought on-line across in 2014. Greensmith's latest software platform, GEMS4, “was used to integrate and manage all five energy storage systems, totaling 23 megawatts,” the company highlighted in a news release.

Agnostic when it comes to energy storage technology, GEMS4 integrated and is managing four new battery technologies, including lithium-ion (Li-ion), flow and aqueous-ion battery storage systems. In total, Greensmith has integrated 12 different types of batteries since its inception.

"We are pleased with yet another key milestone for the company, as the U.S. Energy Storage Monitor report confirms the significant growth taking place in the energy storage market – so the timing couldn't be better," Greensmith CEO John Jung was quoted as saying. "... [A] growing number of power producers, developers and utilities are relying on Greensmith to meet their energy storage technology needs, as reflected in our sales pipeline which currently exceeds 500 megawatts.
“There is no substitute for a track record of success when it comes to deploying any grid-scale technology so our customers value our experience delivering 45 systems across the country as well as internationally. It's gratifying to see that Greensmith is becoming a strategic partner of choice for the design, integration, and software control of advanced energy storage."

*Image credits: 1), 2) GTM Research, ESA; 3) Greensmith

Andrew Burger

An experienced, independent journalist, editor and researcher, Andrew has crisscrossed the globe while reporting on sustainability, corporate social responsibility, social and environmental entrepreneurship, renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean technology. He studied geology at CU, Boulder, has an MBA in finance from Pace University, and completed a certificate program in international governance for biodiversity at UN University in Japan.

Read more stories by Andrew Burger