There’s little doubt that 2013 has been a breakout year for grid-scale energy storage. On the utility side, we’ve seen California mandate an unprecedented 1.3 gigawatts of grid storage by decade’s end, and other markets in the United States and abroad are moving toward goals of their own. On the customer side, we’ve seen a flood of entrants making storage a part of their renewable power, distributed generation and commercial energy management plans.
Now comes the hard part: proving that advanced batteries, thermal energy storage, and a whole host of other technologies can compete on economic terms. Part of that challenge lies in reducing costs. The Department of Energy has set a target of $250 per kilowatt-hour for advanced energy storage — a goal that’s still out of reach for commercially available systems today.
But it’s also important to tackle the other side of the cost-benefit equation and find new ways for storage systems to pay for themselves over time. While energy storage systems are capable of performing many different tasks for the grid and for customers, regulatory and economic barriers must be overcome to allow them to tap these multiple opportunities.
On that front, here are a series of charts that help lay out the key economic opportunities for energy storage in 2014, along with guidelines to the regulatory drivers that could make them possible.