Utilities Must Embrace Energy Storage Growth

The energy storage market is set to expand and utilities should embrace the opportunities on offer.
Published: Sun 15 Jun 2014

By 2020, we can expect 11.3 gigawatts of electric storage to be installed globally. This is according to Jim Rogers, the former CEO of Duke Energy.

The growth of energy storage solutions will be part of the significant transformation which the electric utility sector can expect to occur in the near future, explains Rogers. He points out: “Our challenge is to accelerate it and make money accelerating it."

Energy storage growth is set to accelerate

Rogers adds that in the US, 3.2 gigawatts of storage will be deployed by 2020. About 60% of this will be based in California, where there is a strong push for renewables deployment. [Engerati-California Invests in its Clean Energy Future] and [Engerati-California’s Energy Storage Mandate-Will Others Follow?]

While the growth in storage in the next few years will be dramatic, it will accelerate even faster in the future, Rogers explains. The 11.3 gigawatts of storage installed by 2020 will represent just 1% of the renewables installed globally at that time. Therefore, there is more than enough room for growth in this market. He points out that the annual investment in energy storage is expected to be about US$5.1 billion.

Change must be embraced

Rogers recommends that energy storage companies and their investors approach state regulators and state legislators to alter the rules of utility regulation so that utility business models can evolve and the right incentive put in place to encourage investment. Ultimately, it will be a long process-it will take five to seven legislative sessions to get the new rules established, explains Rogers.

Rogers also said that energy storage will play a critical role in addressing poverty in the lives of 1.2 billion people across the globe who do not have access to grid electricity. He suggests that energy storage companies, interested in fast developing new storage technology, test new technology in underdeveloped areas. The new technology, tried and tested, can then be brought back to the developed world.

Utilities must recognize that change is on the horizon and that it is imperative for them to embrace it. This includes new energy storage technologies. "If you don't control your change, someone else will do it for you," Rogers points out.

Onsite energy storage, in particular, is going to be a real game changer and utilities have the opportunity to turn this market development into an opportunity. [Engerati-Onsite Energy Storage-Opportunity or Threat?]