How Fast is Energy Storage Growing? Here are the Numbers

Dec. 7, 2018
It’s a bull market for energy storage, as evidenced by two separate reports issued this week by leading analytical firms. Here’s what they found.

It’s a bull market for energy storage, as evidenced by two separate reports issued this week by leading analytical firms.

A quarterly report by Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and the Energy Storage Association (ESA) found a doubling of US energy storage projects in the pipeline, bringing the number to 32.9 GW.

The report forecasts that the US energy storage market will reach $4.5 billion by 2023, after doubling between 2018 and 2019 and then again between 2019 and 2020.

Courtesy of Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables/ESA U.S. energy storage monitor

Front-of-the-meter projects now dominate. But that changes around 2021, when over half the installations are behind the meter — the realm of microgrids, commercial projects and home battery storage.

Wood Mackenzie sees US energy storage deployments growing from 338 MW in 2018 to 659 MW in 2019, before more than doubling to 1.7 GW in 2020.

More states pushing storage

California leads, followed by Hawaii and New York. Wood Mackenzie cites efforts by Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey, but notes business opportunities emerging even in states not traditionally alternative energy leaders.

“Outside of the raw megawatt numbers, 2018 saw proposed projects or utility investment from Alabama to the Dakotas, from the Carolinas to Nevada, and everywhere in between. With everything energy storage can do there really is no U.S. market that isn’t emerging as an opportunity,” said Dan Finn-Foley, senior energy storage analyst with Wood Mackenzie.

A variety of factors drive the bull market for energy storage, among them state incentives, utility tariff shifts, net metering changes and other state initiatives. Finn-Foley also said that energy storage developers are trying to get their foot in the door in key interconnection territories prior to changes going in effect under FERC Order 841.

In total, the U.S. saw 136.3 MWh of energy storage deployed in the third quarter of 2018, up from 44 MWh from the same quarter last year. By the end of the year, Wood Mackenzie forecasts deployment of 686 MWh of energy storage.

Navigant offers global view

Meanwhile, Navigant Research continues to track energy storage projects worldwide and says it has now identified 1,935 projects, an increase of 200 since last year.

The research firm attributes the growth to the flexibility energy storage offers. Some refer to energy storage as a swiss army knife because of the many ways it can be used to manage energy, whether for generation, transmission or distribution — on the utility and customer side.

In its fourth quarter tracker, Navigant describes the energy storage landscape as increasingly sophisticated.

“The growing need to modernize global electricity grids and the evolution of business cases for deploying storage ensure that this market will continue to grow quickly over the coming years,” said Ian McClenny, research analyst with Navigant Research.

Navigant also sees growth spurred by the restructuring of electricity markets and the use of energy storage in managing variable [renewable] generation and load.

Both the Wood Mackenzie and Navigant reports are available for a fee, but free executive summaries are here: Wood Mackenzie; Navigant.

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About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

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