Worldwide revenue from advanced batteries for utility-scale energy storage applications will grow from $164 million this year to more than $2.5 billion in 2023, according to a new report by Navigant Research. In addition, energy capacity is expected to grow from 248.1 MWh to 8.5 GWh over the same time frame.
The research firm says that the use of batteries for ancillary services in North America is anticipated to be widespread thanks to regulatory changes in the U.S. and Canada, and significant activity is expected in Europe due to government subsidies of battery systems that are being used as a tool to allow more renewables onto the grid.
On its own, the California Public Utilities Commission has set an energy storage target of 1.325 GWh installed by 2024 for the state's three large investor-owned utilities.
‘Unlike most other networked systems, the electricity grid functions mostly without any stored resources,’ comments Sam Jaffe, principal research analyst with Navigant. ‘Innovative electrochemistries – particularly lithium ion and its subchemistries – have solved many of the challenges inherent in battery energy storage, and there are more than a dozen individual applications that could utilize batteries for energy storage.’
Navigant notes that batteries have not traditionally been an integral part of the utility grid, primarily due to concerns about cost, safety, durability and efficiency. However, the research firm says technological advances in electrochemistry have enabled a new generation of advanced batteries to start playing an important role in grid management.
Lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries utilize the flow of lithium ions between the cathode and anode of the battery to charge and discharge. Although Li-ion has excelled as the primary chemistry of choice in consumer electronics for the last decade, Navigant reports that it is only just now finding its place on the grid, as next-generation cathode chemistries and new manufacturing processes are allowing for larger-format battery cells.
Flow batteries are single-celled battery cells that transform the electron flow from activated electrolyte into electric current. The spent electrolyte can then be recharged from external electricity and used again. The research firm notes that flow batteries can be set up for very long-duration energy storage simply by adding more tanks of liquid electrolyte.
Sodium-based batteries include high-temperature sodium sulfur energy storage devices, as well as low-temperature aqueous sodium batteries. Most sodium batteries, Navigant says, are capable of low-cost production.
The research firm adds that advanced lead-acid batteries utilize carbon doping of the electrodes to allow for a more durable and efficient battery when compared to traditional lead-acid batteries.
Navigant reports that the clear market leader in utility-scale applications of batteries is Li-ion, which offers the best mix of performance specifications (including energy density, volumetric density, cycle life, calendar life, safety and cost) for most energy storage applications.
Among the Li-ion subchemistries, Navigant expects to see dramatic growth among lithium manganese spinel, lithium iron phosphate, lithium nickel manganese cobalt and lithium titanate. Li-ion manufacturers, the research firm says, have raced ahead in building manufacturing facilities, which gives them a considerable advantage in being able to meet large-volume orders and utilize economies of scale to bring prices down.
Other battery technologies, however, remain viable, Navigant adds. Flow batteries have been shown to excel at long-duration energy storage applications, and advanced lead-acid batteries have proven to be excellent performers in power-intensive applications.