More than 40% of the 38 megawatts of new energy storage installed in the US during the second quarter of this year was in homes and businesses compared to 9% in the first quarter, Reuters reported. The relatively small energy storage market is growing rapidly, driven by lower costs for battery systems as well as incentives in Hawaii and California.
The upward swing in residential and commercial installations comes during an expected decline in utility-scale projects, according to Reuters’ Nichola Groom. In October 2015, a massive methane leak at a gas storage facility in Aliso Canyon, California, prompted an energy crisis in the state. The leak, which has been called the worst in US history, led to an acceleration in energy storage projects, including a 1.5-acre site in Southern California harnessing nearly 400 Tesla Powerpacks.
Now that those new large energy storage projects are up and running, more home and business owners have started investing in battery storage. For businesses, batteries can help lower energy costs during peak times while residential customers rely on the technology to provide backup power in case of an outage, Groom points out.
Residential solar coupled with energy storage systems are adding to grid stability, according to a recent feature in Forester Daily News. “Now that solar costs are lower and there’s a rising interest in sustainability and renewable energy, people can generate a good portion of their own energy themselves and need to rely far less on getting it from the utility or from a centralized source,” Tim Poor, chief commercial officer of energy storage system manufacturer Aquion Energy, told the publication.
Hurricane Harvey left thousands without power and the intense flooding made it challenging for utility crews to restore electricity. Natural disasters are likely to continue challenging the grid, making backup storage increasingly attractive to homeowners and business owners alike. And although the total solar eclipse last month didn’t really affect utility customers, the event definitely highlighted the need for the US grid to become more flexible and resilient, Utility Dive’s Robert Walton noted.
This year California has become the largest market for both residential and commercial energy storage installations with Hawaii coming in second for residential storage, Reuters reported. Navigant Research predicted that the commercial and industrial energy storage alone, led by California, will grow from $968.4 million in 2016 to $10.8 billion in 2025. That’s a lot of battery systems.