Power Electronics

Report Says Smart Grids Will Use $6.1 Billion in Electrical Storage Products in 2018

Industry analyst firm NanoMarkets has published a new report titled, "Batteries and Supercapacitors for the Smart Grid-2013." This report claims the grid-storage market will reach $6.1 billion (USD) by 2018 making energy storage one of the fastest growing opportunities in the smart grid industry.

This report provides analysis of worldwide grid-storage markets products including lead-acid, lead-carbon, lithium-ion, sodium-sulfur, sodium-nickel-chloride, and flow batteries, along with ultra-batteries and supercapacitors. Retail, wholesale and microgrid opportunities are covered, along with how frequency regulation, regenerative energy capture and renewable power integration, will impact demand for grid storage. Eight-year revenue and volume projections are included with breakouts by application, storage technology, and geographical region.

The default option for grid batteries today is lead-acid, accounting for more than 55% of revenues from grid batteries currently. By 2018, this share will decline to around 30% as new grid battery technologies become commercialized. The lead-acid battery will itself get an upgrade; carbon electrodes, promising a 4x performance improvement. In addition, the ultra-battery, with combination lead/carbon electrodes will compete for grid-storage markets. In 2018, lead-carbon batteries/ultra-batteries will generate around $300 million in revenues.

Grid storage for remote locations, microgrids and cell phone towers are already economically viable. This is driving demand for lead-acid and Zebra (sodium-nickel-chloride) batteries. Another wave of storage deployment is about to occur on the customer side of the meter for power-quality, peak-shaving and grid-stability applications creating demand for flow and lithium-ion batteries. During this second wave the penetration of renewables will rise above 20%, making grid storage necessary to stabilize the grid because of intermittent generation. A final wave of grid storage is expected for retail peak shifting applications.

Although lithium-ion batteries are receiving considerable attention, it is immature and high cost and its current growth relies on government subsidies. When subsidies disappear, sodium-sulfur and Zebra batteries will be a better deal for power companies and large end users than lithium-ion. The best hope for lithium batteries is where a supplier who is committed to lithium sells it as part of a comprehensive solution such as for smart buildings. Jonson Controls and SAFT are doing this. Revenues from lithium batteries are expected to reach $775 million by 2018.

Supercapacitors will become integral to grid storage, as costs go down and capacities increase. By 2018, supercaps will generate $1.1 billion in revenues from grid-storage, especially regenerative braking on grid-attached light rail and frequency regulation. Here supercaps can result in a 30% reduction in electrical costs. The long lifetimes and near-zero maintenance for supercapacitors make them attractive for such applications. Supercaps will improve performance with new materials; including nano-structured metal oxides, perovoskites, nanotubes and graphene increasing capacity 5-10 times compared to activated-carbon supercapacitors.

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