SEPA And Utilities Provide Energy Storage Market Snapshot

The Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) has announced the release of a new publication, the 2017 Utility Energy Storage Market Snapshot.

Like SEPA’s Utility Solar Market Snapshot, an industry resource now in its 10th year, this first-ever Energy Storage Market Snapshot relies on data and survey responses submitted directly by U.S. utilities. The 115 utilities that submitted data for SEPA’s survey represent more than 75 million customer accounts  – or about 58% of the 130 million customer accounts in the country, according to Nick Esch, SEPA senior research associate and report co-author.

Key takeaways from the report include the following:

A small but growing market: A total of 207 MW, 257 MWh of energy storage came online across the country in 2016. This is enough to keep 28.5 million 9-watt LED light bulbs on for an hour. There is a cumulative deployment of 622 MW, 661 MWh in the U.S. The 2016 interconnections accounted for 38.8% of that total.

Behind-the-meter pipeline: Of the utilities responding to the trends questions on the SEPA survey, 72% are planning behind-the-meter energy storage programs for residential customers; 80% are planning behind-the-meter programs for non-residential customers.

Utility leadership: Utilities are also taking the lead in testing the multiple capabilities and value streams potentially available from combining or “stacking” storage with other distributed energy resources –  solar, wind, and advanced inverters.

Cost of lithium ion falling: The price of lithium ion is falling (down ~60% since 2012); however, the report notes is important to keep in mind that battery-only costs are very different than installed project cost. Manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries is projected to expand significantly, with multiple factories coming online over the next few years.

“Storage may not yet be a mainstream utility resource, as solar is rapidly becoming, but clearly, many in the industry can see the point on the horizon where that starts happening,” says Tanuj Deora, SEPA’s executive vice president and chief content officer. “Utilities, like those that took part in SEPA’s survey, understand storage will be deeply disruptive and transformative in the value it brings to the grid – even more so than solar – and they need to start preparing for those changes now.”

SEPA says the release of its report is timed as a preview of the exciting opportunities on offer at the inaugural Energy Storage International, which will be officially launched as part of Solar Power International, Sept. 10-13, in Las Vegas. The 2017 Utility Energy Storage Market Snapshot is available download here.

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