The renewable energy storage market is growing at a rapid pace. According to Utility Dive, Wood MacKenzie predicted that by 2023 the energy storage market in the United States will reach 3.9GW. We’re over halfway through 2019, and here are 5 trends we’ve seen.
Trend 1 – Buy Low, Sell High
The first trend we’ve seen is companies changing how power is bought and sold from the grid. They are profiting by purchasing energy from utility companies when usage is down and selling it back during high usage. Consider this, for most businesses and households there is a lower demand for energy at night than during the day. Take your home for example. You’re typically asleep during this time, not on your computer and not watching your TV. On the other hand, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that usage increases between the hours of about 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.
Profitability is not the only benefit. Buying low and selling high takes the pressure off community grids and benefits areas that use large amounts of energy. California, with such a large population, has begun to adopt and implement this practice.
Trend 2 – Microgrids for Efficiency and Energy Backup
Microgrids are becoming an integral part of modern grid systems and renewable energy storage. Instead of having to rely on a traditional grid, microgrids, according to Microgrids at Berkeley Lab, can be removed and operated independently utilizing local power sources. Let’s say an area is hit with a natural disaster and it knocks out the power. A microgrid can provide back-up power during the outage. Without a microgrid, it could be hours or even days before the power is restored to homes and businesses. So where are microgrids being adopted?
In 2018, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory conducted a survey on 80 microgrids and found that over half were on the East and West coasts of the United States. Microgrids are a vital resource to keep the power on and speed up disaster recovery efforts.
Trend 3 – Recycling Old into New
The third trend we’re seeing is recycling old storage and shipping containers into energy storage enclosures. There is no shortage of these containers, as it is cheaper for companies to buy new rather than pay to return their used shipping containers according to Falcon Structures.
Using recycled containers for renewable energy storage can save companies both time and money. Companies can buy these prefabricated enclosures rather than wait for engineering/ manufacturing processes. Recycled containers are also durable. They are constructed with robust materials, have reinforced corners and are built to withstand harsh elements. According to Anish Wankhede from Marine Insight, these shipping containers may be constructed from “steel, aluminum, fibre-reinforced polymer” or a combination of those materials. Even with their durability, they are also built to be easily moved and transported.
Companies that practice this include startups or smaller companies. By purchasing a recycled container and making modifications to it, they save money upfront versus sourcing a custom/ new renewable energy storage enclosure.
Keep in mind that these standard solutions do have pitfalls, because companies are forced to work with set specifications that may not fit their technology and application requirements. Take a startup or small company, they may have purchased and modified a recycled enclosure, but as their product matures, the enclosure no longer fits their application. This brings us to our next trend, using standard and custom enclosures.
Trend 4 – Standard vs. Custom Enclosures
We have seen companies use both standard and custom renewable energy storage enclosures in 2019. Many times, their choice is based on technology/ application, installation environment, budget and timeline.
Standard, pre-designed renewable energy storage enclosures can work well in cases when there is a short lead time to meet installation dates. As drawings and engineering have been completed, this can reduce upfront costs and meet timeline needs, especially if this is something that is stocked.
Order quantity also comes into play. If a company has a low demand it can be more cost effective to purchase a standard enclosure, rather than go through a design/ engineering process for a custom enclosure. Size
Custom renewable energy storage enclosures allow for more flexibility when it comes to NEMA ratings and other requirements, sizes and specifications to create a tailored solution that fits the end use case. For example, an outdoor enclosure needs to withstand the elements, and a custom solution can be designed protect energy storage technologies and investment from water damage, wind damage, corrosion and more. Custom colors, branding and accessories can also be built into a custom energy storage solution. This helps support branding in field deployments.
One misconception about custom enclosures is that they come with a long lead time. This may be true in some cases, but custom fabricators with industry experience have a jumping off point that allows them to efficiently work with you to create a quality product and meet lead times.
Trend 5 – Energy Efficiency
One of the main goals for any company in the renewable energy storage field is to increase their efficiencies and keep their expenses low. One of the trends discussed earlier, microgrids, are used for this purpose. Microgrids increase efficiency as they can be removed from the main grid and provide power from local sources.
Harvesting solar power is another popular renewable energy trend that improves efficiency. When solar energy is combined with stored energy, the two create an efficient energy source. The solar energy, which is collected and stored during the day, is released after the sun has set and solar energy is no longer being created. Incentives behind this trend, IEEE Spectrum states, include federal and state level tax and policy initiatives that lower the cost of solar energy allowing companies to save money while also helping the environment.
Lastly, companies are adding batteries to transmission lines which allows energy to move more quickly along the lines and eliminates the need for extra transmission lines. According to Kevin Stark, in his article “How batteries could replace the need for some backup transmission lines”, he states that batteries also provide back-up power for natural disasters, storms or other outages. This trend not only makes systems more efficient, but, Stark says it may also keep more money in the pockets of utility companies as they do not need to construct new wire systems.
What’s to come? (Conclusion)
The evolution of buying low and selling high, adding microgrids to grid systems, utilizing recycled shipping containers for renewable energy storage enclosures, standard and custom renewable energy storage enclosures and increasing efficiency are some of the innovative trends we have observed so far in 2019. As we see the renewable energy storage market continue to grow, we are excited to see what is to come in the second half of 2019 and beyond.
Maysteel designs and fabricates custom, renewable energy and electrical enclosures for battery storage, fuel cells, EV charging stations and more. Are you looking for more information on renewable energy storage enclosures? Visit https://www.maysteel.com/industries/renewable-energy-enclosures/
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