Energy storage rising with batteries

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Energy storage rising with batteries

Energy storage in the United States will more than triple this year as regulators allow the use of the technology by utilities and homeowners, according to a study by GTM Research and the Energy Storage Association.

Changes in regulatory policy, particularly in California, and the growth of renewable energy are driving demand, said Ravi Manghani, an analyst with the Boston-based GTM and lead author of the report. Tesla Motors Inc., which is proposing to build a battery factory, will be among the beneficiaries of increased storage sales.

“Tesla is probably on the top of that list, given their plans for the gigafactory and talking about 50 gigawatt-hours of manufacturing capacity in the next four to five years,” Manghani said in a telephone interview. “They are probably one of the first companies that comes to mind, but by no means are they the only one.”

SunEdison Inc. announced the acquisition of a storage company Wednesday, part of a strategy to add technology that can supply power when solar isn’t available. The panel maker and power producer NextEra Energy Inc. are moving more into storage as federal tax incentives for renewable-energy projects begin drying up, Manghani said.

Lithium-ion battery makers including Samsung SDI Co. and Panasonic Corp. also stand to benefit from more storage use, as more than half of all deployments last year used that technology.

About 220 megawatts of capacity will be installed this year from 62 megawatts in 2014, according to the report. Installations totaled about 44 megawatts in 2013. The U.S. market is estimated to reach 861 megawatts of capacity annually by 2019, according to the report. The market will be valued at $1.5 billion by then, from about $128 million last year.

About 90 percent of the new capacity added so far is used on the power grid before electricity gets to customers. This allows energy companies and utilities to better manage their networks. Storage by end users is expected to grow to 45 percent of the market by 2019 on increasing residential demand. California has mandated 1.3 gigawatts of storage be in place by 2020.

“That’s going to lead to a significant amount of storage deployment along with solar,” Manghani said. “The next five years will be all about growth.”

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