5 Energy Storage Trends to Watch in 2016
Looking back at 2015, it has been an exciting year for energy storage and for the renewable energy industry as a whole. We saw ever-increasing rates of rooftop PV installations, along with other renewable sources, and a concurrent increase in the installation of cutting-edge battery storage and management systems. In some cases, storage by itself has been more popular than ever, particularly in places where weather events can create reliability issues for the local grid.
As we look forward to 2016, we expect to see an even faster adoption of DERs, as both consumers and utilities look to increase the reliability and environmental aspects of the grid. While there are many factors at play, the five things worth watching in 2016 that will have outsized impact on the market.
1. Environmental and economic concerns will combine to accelerate the retirement of coal-fired generation and increase the importance of renewables.
One of the top concerns at the recent Climate Change Conference in Paris was to reduce the contribution of coal-fired electric plants to greenhouse gas emissions. Even before the conference began, the U.K. pledged to close coal-fired generation plants much earlier than previously planned. Both the U.S. and China, two of the largest coal users in the world, are reducing the role of coal in energy production over the coming years in order to meet vital environmental goals.
At the same time as environmental concerns are top of mind, lower cost is driving the increase in use of other energy sources. This is true both for fossil fuels like natural gas, as well as renewables like solar and wind. Between environment and economics, it seems unlikely that we’ll see any reversal of the downward momentum for coal as an energy source in 2016.
However, that doesn’t mean that we’ll see an overnight replacement of coal with renewables. In fact, even as China and the U.S. reduce the use of coal-generated electricity, its use could actually increase in India without some significant changes in the political and economic situation there. The good news is that nanogrids and microgrids that combine distributed generation with local energy storage can provide an important and economical alternative, especially in poorer or more isolated communities that are far removed from the grid. This can help not only in India, but around the world in places where it is just too costly or difficult to extend the existing grid.