The groundbreaking installations came from business as usual, rather than in response to extreme events.
The U.S. energy storage industry delivered record deployments in 2018, driven by a strong fourth quarter for utility-scale projects.
But the new achievement for the young industry pales compared to what’s to come: an expected doubling in 2019, followed by a tripling in 2020. Such growth will propel energy storage out of pilot-scale projects and into grid planning conversations around the country.
Battery installations for 2018 totaled 311 megawatts and 777 megawatt-hours, according to the new Energy Storage Monitor released by energy research firm Wood Mackenzie and the Energy Storage Association, with data from Q4 and 2018 as a whole.
Smaller-scale batteries in residential and commercial sites had collectively outperformed the utility-scale segment for the previous four quarters in terms of megawatts deployed. Q4 broke that losing streak and made up for an otherwise low-output year for the large-format batteries.
Utility-scale set the quarterly record for megawatt-hours deployed, beating the record set by the rapid-fire Aliso Canyon procurement, which fast-tracked batteries for capacity in Southern California after a massive natural-gas leak.
The fact that this record happened in the course of business as usual, rather than a special circumstance like Aliso Canyon, signals that the industry is diversifying and maturing, said Daniel Finn-Foley, senior storage analyst at WoodMac and an author of the report.
“This isn’t a fluke quarter; this is the natural evolution we’ve been looking at the market developing toward, and now it’s finally happening,” Finn-Foley said in an interview.
Though California and the PJM market still dominate in terms of cumulative installed storage capacity, the quarter’s new builds revealed a growing geographical scope of activity. Large-scale projects with a variety of business models came online in Hawaii, California, Texas, Minnesota and Colorado, Finn-Foley noted.
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