Axion Power International Inc. : As Solar Grows, So Will Storage – 4

January 12, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

When you look out the window, what do you see? On a good day, perhaps you see the sun shining. For some people, that sunlight represents an opportunity. The solar market just experienced its second largest quarter in history, due in large part to growth from utility-scale solar installations. That’s an additional 930 MW of photovoltaic capacity – a 35 percent increase over 2012 levels. In fact, in the past 20 years, the solar market has grown by an average of 30% per year. Growth continues to accelerate due to government incentives at the state and federal levels. This continued growth in capacity places increased demands on utilities ability to condition the power for transmission and use, as well as their ability to store the energy received during normal daylight hours for consumption at other times.

Utility-scale solar projects are the largest source of growth for the photovoltaic (PV) industry, with 62 large-scale installationsin the US alone. Collectively, they generate over 4700 MWh of energy. And of course, there are also individual solar panels – 3.3 gigawatts’ worth, or about 16 million individual panels- installed on rooftops across the U.S. One of the challenges when it comes to solar, though, is storing the generated energy that isn’t immediately consumed – storing it for use at other times and for use in the emerging frequency regulation and power conditioning markets. Energy storage devices help utility companies save solar energy created during sunny periods and release it to the grid during periods of need, such as after dark or on cloudy days. Unlike the tremendous growth in solar energy, however, energy storage has not seen similar growth, limiting the full value of renewable energy.

The private sector, governments and even individual consumers are beginning to realize the importance of energy storage. Recently, California joined the energy storage conversation by including a storage mandate in their Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). Utility companies will be required to create and maintain 33% of their total energy productionin storage. Recent reports estimate that the energy storage market will experience a 9% compound annual growth ratethrough 2016, and that by 2017, the market may be worth $19 billion. And as we’ve mentioned, energy storage, for frequency regulation and and power conditioning,is a critical component in a renewable future.

So the next time you look out the window, don’t just think about how beautiful the sunshine is. Think about how storing up all that solar energy could represent the future of energy.

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