Energy Storage Systems in U.S. Expected to Surge in Second Half

(Bloomberg) — Energy-storage installations in the U.S.
will surge in the second half as utilities show increasing
interest in the technology and battery prices slide, according
to a study by GTM Research and the Energy Storage Association.

In the first quarter, 5.8 megawatts of power-storage
capacity was added, up 16 percent from the same period a year
earlier. Boston-based GTM expects a total of 220 megawatts for
the year, with most of that coming in the second half, according
to a statement Thursday. That’s more than triple the 62
megawatts of storage capacity added in 2014.

Utilities are starting to implement storage systems in part
to better manage the intermittent power supplies that come from
wind and solar farms. The technology is also becoming popular
with commercial customers such as building owners and factories
that can lower their energy costs by using stored power during
peak periods during the day.

“If you look at the year-over-year trend the last three
years, a lot of the projects end up getting commissioned in the
second half of the year, and that kind of ramp up is expected
this year as well,” Ravi Manghani, a GTM analyst and author of
the report, said in a telephone interview. “The trend is
pointing toward it being the biggest year.”

The median price for utility-scale storage systems using
lithium-ion batteries was $900 a kilowatt-hour, according to the
report, and there will be “downward movement in 2015” due to
lower component costs and growing competition, according to the
report.

California regulators have asked the state’s three biggest
utilities to add 1.3 gigawatts of storage capacity by 2020, and
Oregon is considering similar measures, Manghani said.

Almost 30 percent of the systems installed in the first
quarter were for so-called behind-the-meter uses — businesses,
schools, government buildings and other utility customers that
are finding ways to use storage to more efficiently manage their
power consumption. That market may surpass utilities’ front-of-the-meter applications by 2018.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Justin Doom in New York at
jdoom1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Reed Landberg at
landberg@bloomberg.net
Will Wade, Carlos Caminada

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