The total number of energy storage projects worldwide – including announced, funded, under construction, and operating facilities- reached 714 in the last quarter of 2012, according to a new tracker report from Pike Research.
Energy storage projects are increasing steadily, both in terms of the project pipeline and the number of projects deployed and operating. Two factors are influencing that expansion: first, demand for energy storage is increasing as utilities learn more about energy storage technologies and become less risk averse, and second, as the economic outlook brightens, companies are more willing to invest the capital frequently required for energy storage.
But Pike identifies several key criticisms of the energy storage market:
- The market is overstated (too many projects linger in the pipeline)
- Certain energy storage technologies are too expensive
- There would be no energy storage market if not for government intervention
- The industry is struggling, with several technology firms announcing bankruptcy
Traditional pumped storage still leads the market in terms of megawatts installed (with 10,359 MW from 2007 to 2012), according to Pike Research’s report “Energy Storage Tracker,” and will continue to be a strong presence in terms of new installations for at least the near future. These installations require a large amount of land area and have significant capital costs associated with them. As these economically attractive sites for traditional pumped storage become exhausted over the longer term, new technologies – including flow batteries and lithium-ion batteries – are expected to fill the gap in storage needs.
In terms of regional market share, Asia Pacific leads the global market for deployed energy storage capacity, followed by Europe (Eastern and Western) and North America. In contrast, North America leads the global market in terms of announced storage project capacity. The announced projects category is useful for identifying how much activity there is in the market. The North American market share is a reflection of the efforts of the DOE and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy to seed innovation in the US energy storage market. Activity in Europe – indicated by the capacity of announced projects in Eastern and Western Europe – reflects a renaissance of traditional pumped storage in the European market.