Clean Energy Storage Capacity Set to Spike by 2020: Report

EV Batteries

By Jonny Wakefield

February 13, 2014

The United States is on track for double-digit growth in commercial clean energy storage capacity over the next six years, according to a new study from GTM Research.

The Boston-based clean energy consultancy estimates the country's distributed energy storage capacity will grow from 120 megawatts in 2014 to almost 720 megawatts by 2020 — a cumulative annual growth rate of 34 percent. 

GTM's projection is based on distributed storage facilities that are under construction or have been announced in the United States.

The report, released Feb. 6, cited falling battery costs and rising use of solar panels as major drivers of the projected growth in storage capacity. Clean energy incentives at the state level have also played a role, as have reductions in the peak demand charges incurred by industrial and commercial power buyers. 

According to GTM Research, "storage can be used to smooth the output and variability of solar energy and may ultimately lead to solar receiving larger capacity credits or help to avoid capacity charges." 

Early growth in storage capacity is expected in a few key nodes — most notably California and through PJM, a massive power transmission company that serves more than a dozen eastern states.

Growth in these regions "will be vital in helping the market scale and getting investors comfortable with the complexity of financing energy storage in the U.S,” said GTM senior Vice President Shayle Kann. 

Canadian companies specializing in energy storage have already achieved some success in the US market. According to a 2012 report from Globe Advisors, "Canada's export of batteries, electric accumulators, and related parts was valued at over US $217 million [in 2012]." Transactions with the United States accounted for over 60 percent of that total.

The 2012 report highlighted Corvus Energy as a successful BC clean energy storage company. Corvus manufactures lithium ion batteries in Richmond, and has exported its product for use in diesel-hybrid tugboats and backup power systems.