Batteries and Business Models Driving Utility-Scale Energy Storage Markets

William Tokash — January 15, 2016

Accumulators and batteries close up.Navigant Research sees several key factors driving the global need for energy storage. The development of new distributed and intermittent variable generation sources being connected to power grids worldwide will require increased load balancing against demand. In addition, the restructuring of electricity markets is expected to create new marketplaces for energy storage systems (ESSs), as the regulatory and economic structure of these markets enables the valuation of the flexible benefits of energy storage deployments.

Furthermore, population changes affecting load profiles are expected to play a critical role in the structure and operation of the power grid, which is anticipated to influence the development of energy storage markets. Navigant Research anticipates that energy storage will increasingly become a viable option to costly grid and substation upgrades to meet changes in load. In addition, the stability of the local electrical grid will remain an important consideration. Areas with relatively unstable grids and frequent outages can benefit from distributed ESSs and microgrids with storage, whereas operators of stable grids are expected to consider utility-scale ESSs to minimize the impact of outages affecting large numbers of customers.

Advances in battery ESS technology, demonstrated by the rise of commercial installations, have enabled energy storage to meet performance requirements for both short-duration, power-focused and long-duration, energy-focused grid applications. These successes are driving revised power market rules and regulations that are expected to enable ESSs to deliver grid and load management benefits. And now, similar to what happened during the birth of distributed solar, we are seeing new ESS business models driven by project financing due to the emergence of predictable revenue flows to energy storage project asset owners.

A Maturing Market

The maturation and growth of energy storage markets will be dependent on three main areas. These include the specific application or applications the battery ESS will provide; the specific grid location of the project; and the quantification of the value that the storage project will create given the local power market rules. Navigant Research’s recently published Market Data: Advanced Batteries for Utility-Scale Energy Storage report examines the factors driving these markets and forecasts power capacity, energy capacity, and battery pack-equivalent revenue for the next 10 years globally.

Navigant Research sees lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries emerging as the leader in utility-scale applications of batteries on the grid given their flexible mix of performance specifications and cost for most energy storage applications. Flow batteries have the potential to deliver long-duration energy storage applications at lower costs, while advanced lead-acid batteries have proven to be excellent performers in certain power-intensive applications. According to Navigant Research, global revenue for advanced batteries for utility-scale storage is expected to grow from $231.9 million in 2016 to $3.6 billion by 2025.

New Installed ABES Pack Energy Capacity and Revenue by Region, World Markets: 2016-2025

Bill Blog Charts(Source: Navigant Research)

Navigant Research looks forward to participating in the 9th Annual Storage Week in San Diego later this month as a variety of industry stakeholders convene to examine the market factors and developments underlying the U.S. energy storage markets.