The Energy Storage Association released its whitepaper “35 X 25: A Vision For Energy Storage,” which lays out a plan for deploying 35 gigawatts (GW - a gigawatt equals 1,000 megawatts) of storage by 2025. The report – developed in collaboration with Navigant Research - outlines a number of developments that argue in favor of energy storage, including:
A view from the bridge
It is by ESA’s own admission, an ambitious plan. However, in a conversation prior to the report’s release, ESA CEO Kelly Speakes-Backman expressed confidence that these trends are aligning to help realize this vision. A large infusion of storage can add tremendous value to the grid and to society.
Speakes-Backman noted that while the storage addressed in the report includes all energy storage technologies, many stationary storage deployments will utilize lithium-ion technologies, and that associated costs are dropping steadily, benefiting from economies of scale resulting from their use in consumer electronics and electric vehicles. Over time, she observed, supply chains will continue to become more efficient, further driving down battery costs. And – similar to the experience in the solar industry - affiliated costs, ranging from customer acquisition and financing to inverters and balance of system, will plummet as well.
The ESA report projects that the majority of storage installations will occurr at the grid scale, as there are numerous efficiency gains to harvest in a grid that typically runs at scarcely 50% of capacity. For example, storage could help to eliminate the need for peaking plants that exist only to supply power during the greatest levels of demand, and that are utilized only 5-7% of the time. Storage could also help to address the fact that our grid infrastructure is also oversized in order to meet peak demand (for example, the report observes that investments made to address the top 10% of demand can account for more than 40% of the total system cost. In New York, it is estimated that the top 100 hours in cost $1.7B per year.)
And although lithium technologies may take the lion’s share of the market, Speakes-Backman emphasized that the report includes all storage technologies, such as pumped storage, compressed air, thermal storage, electrochemical and flow batteries, flywheels, ultracapacitors, and other forms of energy. This includes specific applications such as flow batteries, that are capable of longer duration tasks. At the same time, she predicted that lithium-ion technologies will continue to evolve, stating that, “We see increases in power density and more megawatt-hours in the same footprint.”
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