Energy Storage in Infrastructure Modernization? Yes and Here’s Why

Roads and bridges may be what comes to mind for a lot of people when they hear about federal infrastructure improvements. But batteries and other advanced energy storage devices should be on the list too.

energy storage in infrastructure modernizationThat’s the word from the Energy Storage Association and 52 private companies and business associations in a letter this week urging Congressional leaders to include energy storage in infrastructure modernization planning.

The group argued that energy storage offers economic and jobs advantages – and can do more with the backing of federal resources.

The U.S. already is a global leader in advanced energy storage innovation, markets, and investment, according to the letter. This has spurred more than 50,000 jobs, a number that will grow if the U.S. stays on the forefront of an industry expected to reach $240 billion by 2040.

The group cites GTM Research data showing that the energy storage market will grow by a factor of 10 over the next several years, from just over 200 MW in 2016 to over 2,000 MW by 2021. The growth comes as the cost of battery energy storage declines an expected 12 to 15 percent annually through 2020.

Join Microgrid Knowledge at the Energy Storage Association’s Expo April 19 for a panel on “Resilient Design: Micro? Nano? How Integrated Systems Excel.”

“With appropriate public policy in place, the U.S. could continue to grow this nascent industry and lead the globe on research and development, manufacturing, integration and deployment of the hardware and software necessary for intelligent energy storage-based solutions,” the letter says.

The letter also cited innovative uses of energy storage underway in several.

  • In Texas, Utah, and New York, utilities are using storage to complement wires and substations.
  • In Hawaii and Arizona, they are piloting energy storage within grid infrastructure to enable more distributed generation.
  • In New Jersey and Massachusetts, policymakers are experimenting with strategic storage deployments for greater grid resiliency.
  • Utilities in California recently deployed 90 MW of energy storage in just six months to overcome an emergency failure of conventional natural gas infrastructure.

“Despite these initial forays, most states, utilities, and co-ops face barriers to using energy storage as innovative grid infrastructure,” the letter says. These include resource and procurement issues and interconnection and permitting barriers, which federal backing could help them overcome.

The letter was signed by several battery and energy storage companies, along with large players like Siemens, S&C Electric and Direct Energy, as well as Massachusetts utility Sterling Municipal Light Department and several green-leaning companies and organizations like Enel Green Power North America, Sunrun and New England Clean Energy Council.

The Trump administration has signaled it intends to make modernization of infrastructure a priority, and energy storage is one of several industries vying to be included in legislation.

Give us your take on what Congress should include in energy infracture legislation. Join the discussion on our LinkedIn Group, Distributed Energy Resources.

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Elisa Wood About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of MicrogridKnowledge.com. She has been writing about energy for more than two decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.

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