Battery-based energy storage can play a valuable enabling role when it comes to renewable energy adoption, but storage can also do much more. Services such as peak shifting, backup power, and ancillary grid services are a small subset of the larger matrix of potential future values batteries can provide, but storage is still too expensive to cost-effectively provide these services in most U.S. markets.
However, energy storage may be reaching a tipping point. Analysts project that 318 MW of distributed solar plus storage may be installed by 2018, for example. Also, California’s mandate to procure 1.3 GW of storage, combined with the Tesla gigafactory and the general trend of moving towards prosumer-based electricity markets, is a testament to the size of the potential market.
Thanks to these projections and no shortage of media coverage (by our count, over forty energy storage articles have been released over the past two months alone), an outsider could be led to believe that distributed storage, by participating in several different kinds of electricity markets using a number of different product configurations, is capable of solving many of our electricity system ills.