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Energy storage among growing parts of smart grid infrastructure

By Max Burkhalter
August 31, 2012
Energy storage solutions are vital to the long-term viability of smart grid technologies used to support intermittent renewable energy resources. When solar, wind and other intermittent power sources are used for mainstream power, the inconsistent delivery creates excessive reliability problems. Smart grid can alleviate this problem, but does not always resolve it completely. Many experts agree that power storage solutions that gather excess energy from wind and solar power arrays, when combined with smart grid systems, could enable more mainstream renewable energy use.

According to a recent Zpryme study, many utility companies around the world seem to be buying into this concept. By the end of 2012, revenues in the global grid-scale energy storage system market will climb to approximately $7.3 billion. The sector will grow substantially moving forward. By 2020, the profits in the industry will have grown considerably, reaching roughly $67 billion.

While the global market for grid-scale power storage systems is large, it is dominated by Asia, where the technology will likely play a major role in the solution's growth moving forward. The study found that 2012 revenues in the Asian power storage market will reach $3.6 billion. By 2020, this figure will have climbed to a staggering $36.4 billion. In both instances, Asia will make up half of the global market for grid-scale energy storage.

Zpryme’s CEO and director of research Jason Rodriguez explained that the growing population, rapid modernization and other broad movements throughout Asia are putting emphasis on the need to upgrade power systems, leading to a meteoric rise in smart grid-related investments in the region.

"Nowhere is the opportunity greater for energy storage - and the need more pressing - than Asia, which faces a unique set of challenges," said Rodriguez.

At its core, smart grid is simply an innovation enabler. It provides utility companies with the ability to take advantage of sophisticated network, monitoring and data analysis systems to gather real-time data about power use and make fairly precise predictions on energy requirements based on past usage patterns. When used correctly and with supplemental technologies, such as energy storage, the smart grid can be used to improve the efficiency, reliability and value of utility systems through data, but only if it is properly supported with supporting solutions, many of which are gaining leverage around the world.

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