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Experts predict energy storage “megashift”

As energy storage products enter the market in greater numbers, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency suggests that a global “megashift” is on the horizon rather than incremental change.

As energy storage products enter the market in greater numbers, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) suggests that a global “megashift” is on the horizon rather than incremental change.

Having already been described as a “nail in the coffin” for conventional utilities, the latest developments in energy storage batteries are being followed closely by the energy industry.

The market’s first big move towards smaller-scale on-site energy storage suitable for small and medium sized businesses was the ‘Powerwall’ battery system announced by luxury electric car manufacturer, Tesla, in April 2015.

Turning point

Tesla’s plans to introduce 10kWh and 100kWh systems suitable for storing excess power from on-site electricity generation is already being seen as a turning point for the industry and has been followed by a number of similar product launches by UK companies.

Powervault, a London-based start-up company, has already raised £700,000 to help launch its own domestic-scale energy storage system and national renewable energy supplier, Ecotricity, is also planning to pilot its own storage device.

Megashift

Nina Skorupska, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association (REA), said that a widespread adoption of energy storage technology in the UK is “already moving towards being a reality”, adding that “the UK has several innovative home-grown battery companies that supply homes and businesses.”

ARENA’s Energy Storage Study, published in July 2015, is the latest research into the energy storage market and suggests that global adoption is likely to come much quicker than many experts previously predicted.

Based on a review of ten leading energy storage markets, including the UK, ARENA calculates that the cost of storage batteries will fall by 40-60 per cent by 2020, leading to an installation “megashift” rather than a gradual adoption.

Consumer demand

The biggest growth in demand over this time is expected to come from businesses and consumers rather than energy generators and suppliers.

“The rapid uptake of solar PV provides a useful analogy to what could occur in the energy storage market, as technology prices have potential to reduce as technology development simultaneously improves”, the report states.

“The ‘behind-the-meter’ market segment of energy storage is widely expected to undergo a similar boom to the solar PV industry, with a tipping point expected within the next ten years as further cost reductions are achieved.”