Energy Storage in Infrastructure Modernization? Yes and Here’s Why

April 7, 2017
The Energy Storage Association joined 52 private companies and business groups urging Congressional leaders to include energy storage in infrastructure modernization planning.

Roads and bridges may be what comes to mind for a lot of people when they hear about federal infrastructure improvements. But batteries and other advanced energy storage devices should be on the list too.

That’s the word from the Energy Storage Association and 52 private companies and business associations in a letter this week urging Congressional leaders to include energy storage in infrastructure modernization planning.

The group argued that energy storage offers economic and jobs advantages – and can do more with the backing of federal resources.

The U.S. already is a global leader in advanced energy storage innovation, markets, and investment, according to the letter. This has spurred more than 50,000 jobs, a number that will grow if the U.S. stays on the forefront of an industry expected to reach $240 billion by 2040.

The group cites GTM Research data showing that the energy storage market will grow by a factor of 10 over the next several years, from just over 200 MW in 2016 to over 2,000 MW by 2021. The growth comes as the cost of battery energy storage declines an expected 12 to 15 percent annually through 2020.

Join Microgrid Knowledge at the Energy Storage Association’s Expo April 19 for a panel on “Resilient Design: Micro? Nano? How Integrated Systems Excel.”

“With appropriate public policy in place, the U.S. could continue to grow this nascent industry and lead the globe on research and development, manufacturing, integration and deployment of the hardware and software necessary for intelligent energy storage-based solutions,” the letter says.

The letter also cited innovative uses of energy storage underway in several.

  • In Texas, Utah, and New York, utilities are using storage to complement wires and substations.
  • In Hawaii and Arizona, they are piloting energy storage within grid infrastructure to enable more distributed generation.
  • In New Jersey and Massachusetts, policymakers are experimenting with strategic storage deployments for greater grid resiliency.
  • Utilities in California recently deployed 90 MW of energy storage in just six months to overcome an emergency failure of conventional natural gas infrastructure.

“Despite these initial forays, most states, utilities, and co-ops face barriers to using energy storage as innovative grid infrastructure,” the letter says. These include resource and procurement issues and interconnection and permitting barriers, which federal backing could help them overcome.

The letter was signed by several battery and energy storage companies, along with large players like Siemens, S&C Electric and Direct Energy, as well as Massachusetts utility Sterling Municipal Light Department and several green-leaning companies and organizations like Enel Green Power North America, Sunrun and New England Clean Energy Council.

The Trump administration has signaled it intends to make modernization of infrastructure a priority, and energy storage is one of several industries vying to be included in legislation.

Give us your take on what Congress should include in energy infracture legislation. Join the discussion on our LinkedIn Group, Distributed Energy Resources.

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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