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Large-scale energy storage used to be part of the future of energy. But it’s here now, and it’s going to become increasingly important in the years to come.
Clean energy researchers at Bloomberg NEF (BNEF) find that more than $1 trillion will be invested in the sector between now and 2040. The group’s latest Long-Term Energy Storage Outlook says that the “tumbling costs of utility-scale lithium-ion battery storage systems will transform the economic case for batteries in both the vehicle and the electricity sector”, predicting that prices will fall by 52% between 2018 and 2030, adding to the steep declines already experienced this decade.
Companies such as Sweden’s Box of Energy, which recycles lithium-ion car and bus batteries for use in energy storage, is among the companies likely to profit from the growth of the sector. Photographer: Mikael Sjoberg/Bloomberg
This will lead to $1.2 trillion of investment flowing to the sector in the next 22 years, creating a cumulative capacity of 942GW, BNEF said. In the near term, the market will be dominated by South Korea and the US, but China will be the driving force from the 2020s onward.
Energy storage is key to helping governments decarbonize their economies by using more renewable energy because the dominant sources, wind and solar, are intermittent and do not provide constant power. “ Cheap batteries mean that wind and solar will increasingly be able to run when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining ,” the report says.
Yayoi Sekine, energy storage analyst for BNEF and co-author of the report, said: “We have become much more bullish about storage deployments since our last forecast a year ago. This is partly due to faster-than-expected falls in storage system costs, and partly to a greater focus on two emerging applications for the technology – electric vehicle charging, and energy access in remote regions.”
Logan Goldie-Scot, head of energy storage at BNEF, added: “We see energy storage growing to a point where it is equivalent to 7% of the total installed power capacity globally in 2040. The majority of storage capacity will be utility-scale until the mid-2030s, when behind the meter applications overtake.”
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