What will 2017 hold for energy storage?

While it is still unclear what impact the recent presidential election will have on the electric power sector broadly, there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic about opportunities for energy storage under the new administration. Given the president-elect’s focus on infrastructure, traditional energy sources and jobs, there may be an important opportunity for energy storage to support existing natural gas generation, as well as transmission and distribution infrastructure. Energy storage is already being deployed alongside gas turbines to increase grid reliability, flexibility and efficiency overall. Additionally, the new administration has signaled it will focus on boosting energy security, and energy storage is a key means to help ensure energy security both domestically and abroad.   

While it is likely we will see decreased support for clean energy at the federal level, actions at the state level will continue, and take on even greater importance. Fortunately, states across the United States have already stepped up to shape clean energy targets, and energy storage will be instrumental to achieving high penetrations of intermittent renewable energy. Furthermore, clean energy resources have passed the tipping point towards economic competitiveness in an increasing number of markets, and that trend is likely to continue. As a result, the regulatory momentum around storage is likely to continue. The storage policies set in California, for example, have already gained momentum across the country, with states like Massachusetts, Oregon and New York shaping promising storage markets of their own. Beyond the United States, we can expect to see storage continue to grow by leaps and bounds in countries such as China, India, Australia, Germany and Korea. 

Reductions in installed costs will enable additional storage use cases to become more cost-effective and commercialized in 2017. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has recently signaled its intent to consider removing barriers to enabling multi-use storage assets, such as participation in wholesale markets and transmission and distribution level benefits simultaneously Energy storage as a non-wires alternative that relieves congestion and defers the need to upgrade or replace equipment is an important area of regulatory focus, and we expect to see more projects built that tap into multiple value streams.

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