New Storage Technologies Open Doors For Wind And Solar
On April 30, 2015, Tesla Motors unveiled its Powerwall and Powerpack lithium ion batteries for homes and utility-scale applications, which could facilitate an increased role for wind and solar energy resources that have so far been limited by a need for storage options to address the intermittent nature of their generation. Recent studies from GTM Research and ESA project the United States deploy 220 MW of energy storage in 2015, more than three times the 2014 level (Figure 1). In 2014, the U.S. energy storage market accounted for $128M from an installed 61.9 MW, approximately 40 percent above the 2013 level. Ninety percent of the new 2014 storage capacity was in front of the meter, while the remainder was behind the meter at residential and non-residential sites, reflecting a burgeoning demand for utility-scale energy storage technologies. By 2019, energy storage is projected to represent a 861 MW annual market valued at $1.5B, with behind-the-meter storage accounting for 45 percent of overall storage market.
At the utility level, Tesla’s Powerpack battery could open up avenues for utilities to grow wind and solar energy in their power generation matrices. The Powerpack system comprises 100-kWh battery blocks grouped to scale from 500 kWh to 10 MWh – capable of two-hour or four-hour net discharge power using grid-tied bidirectional inverters. The scalability of the Powerpack is a critical innovation, as it will allow for the application to gigawatt-class installations, which has not been possible with current technology.