The Electric Energy Storage Industry Feels Like Solar Did Nine Years Ago
Last week, San Diego hosted the Energy Storage North America conference, which showcased the technologies and recent activities of the electric energy storage industry. I was at last year’s show in San Jose as well, so I had a good opportunity to compare and contrast where the industry was last year versus today.
The prevailing sentiment that I heard multiple times during the event was that the storage industry is in the nascent stages and ready to break out shortly. Many said that it feels much like the solar industry did ten years ago.
The amusing thing was that I heard that exact same comment last year from the mouths of many attendees. I didn’t expect anybody in San Diego to actually say “This feels like the solar industry did nine years ago” as that would be somewhat unusual and perhaps too precise. But while we appear to be stalled in the impression of a ten year time warp, I also got the very distinct impression that a lot has happened in just 365 days.
Last year, the conference was smaller, with about 1,500 attendees compared with over 2,000 this year. And last year it felt a lot more like inside baseball, with vendors, technologists, and regulators talking to each other. This year, the discussion was less theoretical and more practical. And perhaps most important of all, in November last year, Southern California Edison (SCE) injected some steroids into the conversation with its award for 235 megawatts (MW) of battery storage projects to be installed by 2021. Real money at stake tends to change a lot of things.