Renewables, Storage and Self-generators Redefine Grid

A few months ago, someone in the industry laughed when I mentioned energy storage as an up-and-coming grid technology. Now I feel somewhat vindicated. Energy storage is becoming more affordable sooner than many expected and is poised to be an important part of the future grid, especially when coupled with renewable energy sources.

“Helping the Utility Industry, Industrial Sector Accommodate Renewable Energy” on Page 26 and “Bridging the Disconnect Between Utilities, Self-generators” on Page 28 predict that energy storage coupled with solar power will be cost-effective for many commercial, industrial and residential electricity consumers in a few years. As the cost becomes competitive with or lower than utility-supplied electricity, more consumers will invest in these technologies and rely less on utility-supplied electricity that is almost certain to become more expensive as more customers defect from the grid.

The importance of energy storage also was validated during a POWERGRID International webcast I moderated in late March called “Beyond Integration: Three Dynamics Reshaping Renewables and the Grid.” More than 1,300 people registered for the webcast sponsored and presented by DNV GL, 725 of whom listened live, and they asked 115 questions. This was one of the largest live audiences and most questions I’ve seen. The webcast covered DNV GL’s survey for which it polled more than 1,600 professionals from 71 countries and interviewed many leading industry executives. The respondents were asked to comment on a scenario in which renewables account for 70 percent of the power sector’s generation capacity. How likely is this to occur? How quickly? Who would be the winners and losers?

Eighty percent of survey respondents said 70 percent renewables can be achieved before 2050. They said advancements and changes in technologies, markets, behavior and regulation will allow and enable that change. More than 65 percent of the survey respondents said energy storage will be the biggest contributor to integrating 70 percent renewables. In addition, more than half of the webcast audience’s questions related to energy storage.

You may learn more about the survey by viewing the free, archived webcast on our website at www.power-grid.com/webcasts/2015/03/beyond-integration.html.

Whether the 70 percent of DNV GL’s survey respondents are correct remains to be seen, but during the next 35 years, energy storage will be planted firmly in the two-way grid that will move a large percentage of renewable energy.

Expect more articles and news about energy storage in POWERGRID International and on our website.

Teresa Hansen,
Editor in Chief

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