Is Energy Storage Going Mainstream?

The electric industry’s “Holy Grail” is storage technology that can reliably and affordably store energy to complement intermittent renewables. A panel of experts from NREL, the Electric Power Research Institute and Tesla came together at the closing session of CREA’s Energy Innovations Summit in October to discuss how the storage industry is progressing.

Moderator Jeff Ackermann, chairman of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, opened the session with the statement that historically “Civilized and grounded society comes from storage.” He continued by saying that “We are on the cusp of transformable storage.”

Electric Power Research Institute’s Haresh Kamath noted that the cost of technology has plummeted over the last two years, “reaching an interesting level” so that storage technology is applicable in niche applications such as peak shaving that can lead to asset deferral. He recognized that gaps to storage implementation include performance data, and understanding the value and the organizational adaptations of these new technologies.

Bob Rudd, director of utility and microgrids with Tesla, talked about how in the storage marketplace there are technologies that help developers achieve future applications and move the industry forward. He gave several examples of operational, real-world storage technologies, such as the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative project and the Neoen Hornsdale wind farm.

Ackermann closed the session by saying that storage is on the “same trajectory as other technologies.” CREA was pleased to have this panel present this cutting-edge research and development and will continue to monitor the progress of this fast-moving technology.