Energy Storage, Part One: Are energy storage systems the next big thing?

by Prasanna Srinivasan, Manager, Business Development & Marketing at LORD Corporation

Prasanna Srinivasan, Manager, Business Development & Marketing at LORD Corporation

Prasanna Srinivasan

Energy storage is not a new concept. It has been around for decades and is touted as an important tool for facility managers to optimize their facility energy system, a solution to fixing the aging power grid and increasing the spread of renewable energy. It has been a valuable tool for reducing electric bills and helps during emergencies such as power outages from storms, equipment failures or accidents.

The energy storage market is positioned to “explode” to an annual installation size of 6 gigawatts (GW) in 2017 and more than 40 GW by 2022 from an initial base of 0.34 GW installed in 2012 and 2013. Analyzing energy storage from a monetary standpoint, it is expected to grow 8 percent a year to $50 billion in 2020.

The federal government has also committed to increasing energy storage and microgrid capacity, further promoting expansion of this market. In June 2016, the White House announced a series of federal and private-sector actions to scale energy storage in the U.S. at the Summit on Scaling Renewable Energy and Storage with Smart Markets.

These factors, among others, are contributing to this rapid market expansion.

  • The growth of the electric vehicle (EV) market. The International Energy Agency says electric car stock reached 1.26 million in 2015, 100 times more than in 2010. New registrations of electric cars increased by 70 percent between 2014 and 2015, with more than 550,000 vehicles being sold worldwide in 2015. EVs could impact the energy storage market through vehicle-to-grid technologies, through which their batteries could be connected to the grid to discharge power for others to use.
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    Energy storage systems are expected to grow to an annual size of 6 gigawatts this year and to more than 40 gigawatts by 2022. Source: Flickr

    The progress of Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery technology. Li-ion batteries have ramped up in terms of energy and power density. Throughout the next decade, Li-ion batteries are expected to become the mainstream energy-storage technology, and more than 80 percent of global energy storage installations will include the technology by 2025.

  • Abundance of untapped resources. Energy storage makes it possible to take advantage of solar energy, even when the sun isn’t out, and wind power when there isn’t wind. Energy storage systems are able to help smooth out the electricity supply from variable energy sources such as these.

wind-energy-graphic-from-prasanna

  • Push for cleaner energy and energy independence. The intense focus on this, along with some government subsidies, has propelled the market forward. Energy storage not only supports the integration of renewable energy generation, such as wind and solar power, but it helps cut emissions as it takes more of the load off fossil-fuel generation. Making existing generation go further and avoiding capital and resource-intensive new facilities would make a significant contribution to environmental priorities. California’s Santa Rita jail in Dublin, Calif. – the fifth-largest correctional facility in the United States – has embraced energy storage, developing its 113 acres into a modern microgrid. The jail is now able to meet its own power needs in case of a utility grid outage. This is a game-changer because the facility now has the ability to balance power supply and demand instantaneously – literally within milliseconds – making power networks much more resilient, efficient and cleaner than in the past.
  • Big names have jumped on board with energy storage. Grid companies have started working with battery pack integrators to provide a smart grid, and solar companies are partnering with battery suppliers. The automotive industry has also readily adopted energy storage to help accelerate development of high-performance, cost-effective, and safe energy storage systems to power the next generation of electric-drive vehicles, cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the need for the U.S. to import oil.

Energy storage at a glanceAlthough the energy storage market is rapidly expanding and provides numerous opportunities, there are still kinks that must be worked out before it can be fully adopted on a mainstream level.

For more on challenges and limitations facing the energy storage market, look for an “Energy Storage: Part 2” follow-up to this blog post. In the meantime, let us know your thoughts on the future of energy storage.

To get a picture of how energy is being consumed through the United States and more about the energy storage market, check out this interactive “U.S. Energy Mapping System” and the 2017 Energy Outlook from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

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Electric Vehicles: Is the U.S. Culture Ready for Infrastructure Changes?

by Jim Greig, Global Sales and Marketing Manager Electronic Materials, LORD Corporation

I recently had a conversation with my 13-year-old daughter about fossil fuels. The discussion was prompted by what she is learning in school – how the world is being depleted of natural resources and which alternative energy options are viable for the future. Even at a very young age, children are beginning to understand that dependence on fossil fuels for their generation and for their children’s generation is not practical. It’s not just the “cool” thing anymore to be into alternative energy; it is imperative.

Jim Greig, Global Sales and Marketing Manager Electronic Materials, LORD Corporation-photo

Jim Greig

Awareness of the exhaustion of fossil fuels, along with legislated emission standards throughout the world, is driving the alternative viewpoint towards alternative energy and electric vehicles. The auto industry is starting to take note of the world’s “greenification” as it develops hybrid vehicles and looks to fuel cells as a potential offset.

In addition to the emerging interest in electric vehicles for personal use, other enterprises are also considering alternatives to gas-fueled transport. Companies such as UPS and Fed-Ex are contemplating electrifying their trucks, which would be especially efficient for the type of “start-stop” driving that is done as packages are delivered. Electrification of school buses and public transportation is a big target for electrification, especially for reducing air pollution in city and suburban environments.

As electric vehicle technology advances and the cost of ownership becomes more feasible for the average driver, do we have the infrastructure available for recharging the vehicles as drivers go about their daily business? Right now, we don’t.

Just as we have gas stations on almost every corner in major cities and suburban areas, and “rest” stops along the highways, the U.S. will need to have a network of charging stations situated along roadsides and throughout cities and towns. While OEMs are working on bringing down the cost of electric vehicles, the infrastructure for charging the electric vehicles needs to be established.

Awareness of the exhaustion of fossil fuels, along with legislated emission standards throughout the world, is driving the alternative viewpoint towards alternative energy and electric vehicles.

Awareness of the exhaustion of fossil fuels, along with legislated emission standards throughout the world, is driving the alternative viewpoint towards alternative energy and electric vehicles.

One of the major drawbacks to the acceptance of electric vehicles is “range anxiety.” Yes, you can charge your electric vehicle in your home and it will be operational for 100-to-200 miles before needing a recharge. So while you can calculate your driving distance ahead of time before you will need a recharge, how much easier would it be to know that a recharging station is conveniently available? That is the key to mass adoption of electric vehicles – charging stations accessible everywhere in the U.S.

With a charging station infrastructure in place, electric vehicles become a viable option for both short and long journeys – local trips to school or work or the grocery store, and longer drives to for vacation or a business trip.

So the question is: Do you wait for more consumers to buy electric vehicles as the prices become more palatable and then begin to establish charging stations through the U.S.? or Do you make the investment in the charging stations now so they will be ready for the electric vehicle users?

Children in school are already mindful of the fact that the world’s resources are coming to an end, and they will be the driving force towards alternative energy use. Is the U.S. culture ready for the infrastructure changes that will be necessary for electric vehicle transportation?

For more information on how LORD technology can help electric vehicle companies save money and become more efficient, please contact us.