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GTM: 2015 is ‘biggest year ever’ for US energy storage market

20MW energy storage project deployed in PJM interconnection area. Image: Greensmith.
Energy storage installations in the US this year are expected to be treble what they were in 2014, making it the “biggest year ever” for storage, according to the latest forecasting by GTM Research.

GTM has just published the latest instalment of its US Energy Storage Monitor in association with the national Energy Storage Association. The report, which tracks quarterly deployments of energy storage capacity, found that the utility-scale, front-of-the-meter and customer-sited, behind-the-meter segments deployed a combined total of 60.3MW capacity and 53.1MWh duration of storage in the third quarter of this year.

Front-of-the-meter dominated that scene, installing 46.6MW (25MWh), followed by 13.7MW (28.1MWh) of customer-sited systems. The much higher level of duration in residential and small commercial behind-the-meter storage is due to the fact that the majority of applications in front of meter are still for grid-balancing, including frequency regulation, which necessitates short bursts of power. Behind-the-meter, storage is typically used for longer duration roles such as backup power and solar time-shifting. Commercial deployments, including peak demand shaving, actually dominated the behind-the-meter segment, taking up 88% of all that segment’s deployments for the quarter. One reason for the relatively slow uptake at residential level is thought to be the fact that net metering policies for feeding power back into the grid make storage less economically attractive by comparison.

BIggest year ever as 100MW ceiling smashed in just nine months

This marks the first time since GTM began putting together Energy Storage Monitor in 2008 that total deployments for any calendar year have surpassed 100MW, with 108MW (94MWh) already installed by the end of Q3.

What has therefore already been the “biggest year ever” for US energy storage, GTM said, could finish with 192MW of new deployments. This was roughly treble 2014’s total, a year which had been called one in which storage, after years of promise and trial deployments, had been expected to “put up or shut up”. After successfully “putting up”, driven by developments including the AB2514 mandate in California, it appears, 2015 is the “breakout year” some had predicted would follow.

The report also indicates that the spread of deployment is moving outwards from early adopter markets driven by policy and market mechanisms, such as PJM’s feted frequency regulation market, which have dominated the overall picture to date. GTM’s Ravi Manghani cited the contribution of utility-scale procurements in regions such as Vermont and Georgia in recent months as evidence.

“As expected, 2015 is turning out to be a breakout year for US energy storage market. Even though we’ve seen PJM market dominating megawatts of deployments so far, third quarter of 2015 had utility-scale deployments in states like Georgia and Vermont,” Manghani said.

“Energy storage has started to appear in different utility request for proposals (RFPs) and grid planning across states, another indication that utilities and policymakers are getting comfortable with the technology and multiple values it can provide.”

US storage deployments since 2013. Image: GTM Research.
EU PD Research's Europe installer report

Also launched today was the “European PV InstallerMonitor” by another firm, Germany-headquartered EU PD Research. The report focuses on Germany, the UK, Italy, France, Austria, Holland, Switzerland and - apparently in recognition of its high potential as a market despite its geographical incongruence - Australia.

Looking more at energy storage at domestic scale and framed through the lens of the installation, EU PD found that it is now the norm for solar installers to offer energy storage with new PV systems, with over three quarters of those surveyed confirming that this was the case.

In a guest blog for PV Tech Storage today, UK renewable energy recruitment specialist David Hunt of Hyperion Executive Search wrote about the scope for solar installers and the wider industry to diversify into offering storage in the face of thousands of expected job losses.  

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