The energy storage market appears to be primed for double-digit growth the next several years. A joint report issued by the Energy Storage Association (ESA) and GTM Research earlier this year estimates overall deployments (tracked in MW) will easily double as compared to the 2014 level. Current projections for 2018 show a deployment level of nearly 600MW, which is almost three times higher than this year. Advancements in technology, reduced battery costs, and a robust renewable energy market are the driving forces behind this blossoming market. Are you prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that will arise as this all unfolds?
A key challenge in trying to harness the power of solar and wind power systems is its intermittency. Figuring out ways to store the energy when these systems go idle has been the focus of many researchers and manufacturers for years. Developing an affordable solution has proven quite difficult. But with government funding support, state incentives, and the lure of new revenue streams, many manufacturers have entered this market with the goal of carving out a nice chunk of this new business. And their work is helping to drive down the cost of these types of systems, which results in them being more widely adopted.
A large number of utility-scale projects are now taking place across the country. News announcements on these high-profile projects pop up on a regular basis. One emerging area of opportunity on this front is in the management and control of the stored energy. The two-way interaction of this type of system — and the communications and control capability required to manage it — requires a highly sophisticated design and an experienced team of engineers and technicians to manage it. Individuals with the skill set to work on these types of systems will surely be in high demand. On the construction side of the fence, work encompasses the installation of battery equipment and systems, wiring and switching equipment, and interconnection to high-voltage grid systems. At present, contractors with experience in the utility sector will have a leg up on others looking to compete for this type of work. Turn to the cover story, “Energy Storage Evolution,” for a special report on how this changing market will affect electrical professionals.
But as this market grows, so will the opportunities in the residential and non-residential sectors. Going back to the ESA report noted above, non-utility energy storage deployments are projected to make their mark starting in late 2016 and rapidly expand from there. As these market sectors grow, more projects will move into the construction phase and drive up the demand for construction services. So it’s probably a good move for you to start reviewing the technology behind these systems now, and studying these early installations.
As with any other type of electrical system work, safety will be a key focal point with these deployments. In anticipation of the growth of this market sector, the NEC is moving forward with the introduction of two new Articles in this area. Article 706 [Energy Storage Systems] will apply to all permanently installed energy storage systems (ESS) that may be stand-alone or interactive with other electric power production sources. Article 691 [Large-Scale Photovoltaic (PV) Electric Supply Stations] will focus on locations containing the generating stations and substations, including their associated generator, storage battery, transformer, and switchgear areas. These systems are operated for the sole purpose of providing electric supply to the utility transmission or distribution system with a generating capacity of no less than 5,000kW.