As countries and industries explore alternatives to traditional energy sources, the market for renewable energy storage continues to grow. How do you keep up with emerging energy storage trends? We made it easy and pulled together some key trends in this industry and explored how this roller coaster of a year might (or might not) be impacting them.
Microgrids continue to have a significant impact
Last year we noted that microgrids are becoming increasingly important in modern grid systems. That trend has continued in 2020, and we don’t expect it to slow down anytime soon. Microgrids, which offer energy storage and generation independently from the main power grid, help communities retain connectivity even during brownouts or power failures on the main grid.
These autonomous systems can be essential during high-impact weather events, or peak hours of operation. Along with access to secure and reliable energy, microgrids also offer a lower carbon footprint than traditional power sources.
As demand for reliable energy sources continues to rise, look for more microgrid development from major utility providers worldwide.
Innovative energy storage options on the rise
Energy storage solutions have become as inventive as the energy generation methods they protect. Batteries, such as lithium-ion batteries, sodium-sulfur batteries and lead-acid batteries, are types of electrochemical batteries used to store energy generated by power grids.
These batteries are a lot different than the typical household variety. The large devices are housed in groups and encased in metal enclosures, which are then placed in a warehouse-like space to form a battery grid system that can be tapped into when the main grid is strained. They are becoming increasingly popular for energy security, as you can quickly tap into their power.
Hydroelectric storage, compressed air storage and thermal storage are other options that can supplement energy sources, such as solar that aren’t necessarily “always on.” Hydrogen, used in fuel cells or gas turbines, can generate power efficiently without creating a lot of harmful emissions.
The need for cleaner energy isn’t going away anytime soon, and neither are increasingly innovative methods for storing and using it.
Residential demand increasing
A newer development in energy storage, and a trend we think will continue, is increased demand for independent power sources from residential clients.
What’s driving it? In many cases, natural disasters and the need to quickly restore power to communities. For example, in 2019, wildfires in California left over a million people without power.
These disruptions are more than a mild nuisance. They can make access to emergency services difficult or put vulnerable populations at risk (think: older adults left without air conditioning on a sweltering day or those who rely on medical devices at home to stay healthy).
More households are interested in alternative power sources and options such as solar-based energy storage systems for accessing power to avoid the problems caused by power outages and grid failures.
Energy when you need it
Energy Storage as a Service (ESaaS) is becoming more popular to tap into power when needed. With ESaaS, businesses or other users can contract with energy storage companies for access to energy. Some experts predict that renting this supplemental storage is gaining traction and becoming a more attractive and cost-effective model for ESaaS, especially for businesses who need it to perform. This model is expected to help grow the industry by bringing in additional financing. Guidehouse Insights shared that, “…investors previously avoided energy storage deals due to complexity surrounding cash flow, ESaaS is a promising model that as the potential to attract financing and further grow the industry.”
Costs continue to decrease
The cost of wind, solar, and battery storage has been steadily declining, making renewable energy more affordable. This trend, coupled with increased global demand for cleaner, renewable power, makes using and storing alternative energy more accessible and more likely to keep growing in the years to come.
So, what about COVID?
The Coronavirus pandemic has touched nearly every industry in one way or another in 2020, and the energy storage industry is no exception. In this case, companies feel the impact in their supply chain around material availability, and some may experience delays and disruptions. For instance, energy storage enclosures that keep technology protected and running are typically sourced from a sheet metal fabricator.
Delays that have resulted from overseas sourcing have caused some companies to “reshore” the work to bring their supply chain manufacturers closer to home and closer to their installation sites. Manufacturers with several facilities in critical locations are better able to meet the demand with fewer supply chain disruptions. For example, with six manufacturing facilities in strategic locations throughout the US and Mexico, Maysteel can react quickly to changes in demand, and deliver products with shorter lead times and lower shipping costs.
A trend with staying power
Customization continues to be extremely important for energy storage solutions, both in terms of function and aesthetics. For designers, engineers and program leaders, customization offers the opportunity to use power storage containers that fit the project’s overall look and feel. It allows for more freedom to design the container to the technology, rather than stick with a standard enclosure that may not be the right fit for the project. It also allows them to utilize custom branding and create units that match the aesthetics of an installation site.
Lastly, and most importantly, customized energy storage containers/enclosures support exact product specifications such as NEMA 3R and NEMA 4 standards, and various revisions and programs.
What lies ahead
It is impossible to know what the future holds. Still, industry experts predict the need for energy storage will keep growing, with some projecting close to $620 billion in investment over the next 20 years. Some of the trends we’ve seen so far in 2020 include:
- Innovative energy storage options
- An increase in residential demand
- The increasing popularity of Energy Storage as a Service (ESaaS)
- Decreasing energy storage costs
- Customization of energy storage enclosures
As the industry expands, job opportunities, the energy storage supply chain and technology will grow. We’re looking forward to seeing what new trends will emerge in 2021. Want to learn more about types of energy storage technology? Read more on the Maysteel blog. Are you working on a project of your own? Contact us!