The energy storage market expanded quickly at the end of 2015, leading at least one business research firm to predict that 2016 will be a banner year for the industry.
That could be a boon for renewable energy, especially resources like wind and solar power that tend to be more available at some times of day than others. Research models from the Rocky Mountain Institute published in 2015 estimated that electricity customers could avoid paying for peak power and lower their bills by capturing excess energy from solar panels and saving them for high-use hours.
Energy storage also promises to be important for utilities, which can use batteries as resources for avoiding blackouts, avoiding the building of unnecessary infrastructure and relying on quick-start energy generation less often.
IHS, an international research company with a database dedicated to tracking energy storage projects, reported a 45 percent increase in the energy storage “pipeline” across the globe during the fourth quarter of 2015, according to a press release. The statement also said that IHS is tracking about 900 megawatts worth of energy storage projects scheduled for commission in 2016.
Overall, the company expects a doubling in the amount of grid-connected energy storage this year — 45 percent of which should happen in the U.S.
“Continued battery cost reduction, government funding programs and utility tenders have helped spark a notable acceleration in the global energy storage market, and IHS recorded an increase of nearly 400 megawatts in the global pipeline during the final quarter of 2015,” IHS Technology Principal Analyst Marianne Boust said in the statement.
A mandate from the state of California that investor-owned utilities buy up energy storage capacity seems to be contributing to the trend. According to IHS, one large-scale project on tap in 2016 is a series of Pacific Gas & Electric Co. contracts for a total of 75 megawatts of storage awarded to several contractors.
“Suppliers and developers around the world are preparing for a record year in 2016, with significant growth projected in a wide range of regions and market segments,” Boust said.