The New Engineering Battleground: Energy Storage

Published: 23 Aug 2017 By Andrew Willmitt

No sooner had Tesla announced that it had won a tender to install the world’s biggest battery storage system in Australia, Siemens and AES launched a new joint venture, Fluence, that will focus on battery storage systems.

According to a recent report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, battery-based storage is poised to grow significantly. At the end of 2016 there was 4GW of battery-based storage capacity globally. Contrast this to 2024 when capacity is predicted to have increased to 45GW.

As battery-storage systems become more reliable, sustainable and affordable, more and more major engineering firms are expected to enter the market to capitalise on the growing popularity of this energy-storage solution.

Andres Gluski, Chief Executive of AES, outlined his plans for participation in the energy storage market: “We have to massif this product to continue to bring down costs. On long-duration systems, we think we’re the most competitive in the market, but we’ll be even more competitive if we’re larger.” Such a sentiment is clearly the motivating factor behind the Siemens AES joint-venture.

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The transformative impact of battery-energy storage

The lack of sufficient and appropriate energy-storage systems has long proven to be a limiting factor on the adoption and growth of renewable technologies.

Until now.

By eliminating the intermittency factor that has plagued renewables to date we should anticipate that battery-energy storage technology will have a transformative impact upon the clean-tech sector. As Gluski confirms, “energy storage is the holy grail of renewables.”

Whilst the renewables industry anticipates the large-scale adoption of battery-energy storage technology, the Oil & Gas industry holds the opposite view. After all, battery based storage systems are likely to drastically reduce the use of oil and gas for energy generation purposes.

 

Not just industrial, but domestic too

Battery-energy storage technology is now creeping into the residential and domestic spheres.

Clearly envisioning a future in which electric vehicles refuel in their own garages, German automaker Mercedes-Benz has partnered with Vivint Solar, an American solar panel installer, to produce residential solar panels with modular, stationery storage batteries.

Mercedes claims that its new battery storage system will, “make autonomous energy supply even more efficient by freeing customers from the dictates of rising energy prices, times of day and the weather. And, as energy costs continue to rise, maximised utilisation of home-generated electricity from photovoltaic systems becomes an even more attractive economic proposition.”

Mercedes aren’t along when it comes to domestic battery-energy storage. Tesla too has joined the fray with its ‘Powerwall’ which “integrates with solar to harness the abundant power of the sun and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.”

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An electrified market

This is clearly only the beginning of the wide-scale adoption of battery-energy storage technology.

As consumers and businesses alike wake-up to the benefits to be gained from the adoption of this energy storage solution, expect this burgeoning market to explode and become the next engineering battleground.

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