Any doubt about the importance of storage in the future energy system should quickly be dispelled with a review of the US Department of Energy’s Global Energy Storage Database.
This valuable and important resource, which has been running for several years now under the management of its initiator, Dr Imre Gyuk, DOE's Energy Storage Program manager, aims – with the help of project developers/owners and other parties – to build up a continuously updated global record of energy storage projects and policies.
To date 1,500 projects are detailed, with a review of the database showing that there are projects on every continent – even in Antarctica. The majority of the projects – just under half – are not surprisingly in North America, where storage has had the most development and the database is presumably best known. This is followed by Europe, which has also seen extensive storage developments, with just over a quarter. The remainder are in South America, the Middle East and Asia, primarily Japan and China, and Australia. A recent agreement with the New South Wales government and Australian Energy Storage Alliance will ensure that projects from this latter country will be kept up to date.
However, no projects are recorded in Russia and there are few in central Asia.
Each project entry includes a comprehensive range of information from its location to its status, which is useful in itself but also enables some practical global oversights (bearing in mind the limitation of incompleteness).
The energy storage revolution
The earliest projects in the database are pumped hydro projects dating back to the early 1900s and this technology dominates, particularly since the early 1970s with the large ongoing growth that it has undergone. The first electro-mechanical storage projects recorded date from the late 1970s, but the modern era of energy storage can be seen to start in the late 2000s with the rapid take-off of thermal storage projects followed thereafter by electro-chemical (i.e. battery) storage.
From a numerical perspective, pumped hydro accounts for about 95% of the total capacity in the database, i.e. 178,547MW out of a total 187,361MW. However, these constitute less than a quarter of the projects recorded, and the majority (almost 60%) are electro-chemical storage, while about 13% are thermal storage.
These figures also point to the significantly larger sizes of thermal storage projects at an average 18MW compared to electro-chemical storage of average 2.6MW.
Considering all storage technologies the top use case is electricity time shift, while for the newer technologies use cases include renewables capacity firming and electric bill management.
The database also lists 22 storage policies, all from within the US.
Contribute to the storage database
The aim of the database is to contribute to the rapid development and deployment of energy storage technologies. To contribute to that aim, ensure you submit your project to the database.