A new report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) has revealed that the world is adding more energy storage capacity than ever – but reliance on policy support is delivering patchy growth.
Global installations of energy storage reached 1.17 GW in 2017, which is a 4.6% increase on 2016. However, 2016 posted growth of 61% against 2015, meaning sector expansion has slowed dramatically in the space of the past 12 months.
BNEF still expects sixfold growth in the sector by 2030, but warns that the industry “still needs training wheels” as it steadies itself across a global scale.
“[Storage] is currently a fragile market, reliant on policy support in most countries – and this makes growth patchy,” said BNEF’s head of storage analysis Logan Goldie-Scott.
As increasing amounts of intermittent renewable electricity generation sources such as wind and solar power are added to global grids, the importance of battery storage as a reliable and responsive means for storing this energy grows.
However, in many countries storage technology is still reliant on subsidy and often-erratic government support. The average price of a battery pack remains prohibitively expensive for many would-be distributed generation consumers, despite costs falling by 24% to $209/kWh last year.
This brings storage technology costs closer in line with other grid resources, the BNEF report said, but adoption rates at scale continue to suffer from disjointed strategies to support and integrate such technology more effectively.
The leading storage nation in 2017 was South Korea, which installed 406 MW of capacity – more than any other nation. According to BNEF, South Korea’s policies “support adoption of batteries by offering incentives such as discounts on electricity rates for C&I customers who deploy systems”.
Last year was described as a transitional one for the U.S., as the nation’s utilities and regulators remained divided over how best to integrate, adopt and support storage technology, Goldie-Scott said. Across the Americas, which includes both North and South America, 522 MW of storage capacity was added, which was 3% less than the capacities added in 2016.
The EMEA region grew slightly, the data shows. In the U.K. recently there has been a push to develop new routes to commercialization for battery technology, led by the recently launched Faraday Institution, while in Sweden Northvolt’s proposed battery cell gigafactory is targeting 32 GWh of cell production capacity by 2030.
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