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It’s Time to Start Appreciating Energy Storage

Posted on December 3rd, 2015 by in New Materials & Applications

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“A next-generation smart grid without energy storage is like a computer without a hard drive: severely limited.” Katie Fehrenbacher, GigaOm

People don’t get excited over battery technology like they do over cool gadgets, smart apps and 3-D Printers. That’s a shame because they should: Energy Storage is set to play an important role in future technologies and in our attempts to use more low-carbon energy like solar and wind.

After all, batteries and other energy storage equipment make it possible to store solar and wind electricity and use it whenever it’s needed, not just when it’s produced. That ability will help utilities to manage their power supply and demand.

You can often see the potential for energy storage technologies in lithium-ion batteries and fuel cells, which are used to power electric and hybrid vehicles and billions of various portable consumer electronics.

Despite the widespread usage and uses for Energy Storage, why isn’t it getting the respect it deserves as a rising technology?

In a recent study from the McKinsey Global Institute, “Disruptive Technologies: Advances that will Transform Life, Business, and the Global Economy”, Energy Storage was ranked as #8 on their list of the top rising disruptive technologies.

Why is Energy Storage ranked so low? After all, if not for Energy Storage, the majority of the seven higher-ranked technologies wouldn’t be able to function.

Facts reinforce that over the coming decade, advancing Energy Storage technology could make electric vehicles cost-competitive, bring electricity to remote areas of developing countries and improve the efficiency of the utility grid:

• According to market research firm HIS, the energy market is set to “explode” to an annual installation size of 6 gigawatts (GW) in 2017 and over 40 GWs by 2022, from an initial base of only .34 GW installed in 2012 and 2013.

• An IMS Research report expects the market for storing power from solar panels, which was less than $200 million USD in 2012, to catapult to 19 billion by 2017.

• Energy storage works hand in hand with renewable energy: Unpredictable patterns of the sun and wind make managing energy flows challenging. Energy storage that can operate for hours at a time is needed to store the energy from these sources and then release it whenever there is a peak in demand. Lockheed Martin is designing and developing long-duration energy storage systems for utilities, as well as commercial and industrial customers, to ensure energy from these renewable sources is available 24/7.

The time has come to take a stand: Stop fawning over shiny and exciting technologies and start appreciating Energy Storage! It truly deserves attention and recognition as an essential future technology that can positively impact our ability to innovate all other technologies.

Agree? Disagree? Drop your thoughts in the comments section and we can discuss further.

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