Making Money with Batteries
Battery energy storage is the hottest emerging
technology in the renewable energy industry
but are we beyond demonstration projects yet?
Redflow’s LSB [large-scale
battery] product installed at
an office building in Adelaide,
Australia. Credit: Redflow.
JENNIFER RUNYON, Chief Editor
Venture capital investments in the energy storage sector
topped $175 million in the frst half of 2016, according to Mer-com Capital Group, whose analysis shows that lithium-ion and
sodium-based batteries received the lion’s share of that money.
There is no doubt that batteries will be a large part of the
renewable energy future because they enable greater amounts
of renewables to be connected to the grid. However, that
future may be farther away than one might think, especially
after visiting energy storage conferences and trade shows and
talking to vendors.
“What you are up against is the wishful thinking that this
is right around the corner but they’re just not,” said Andy Skumanich, founder of SolarVision Consulting and author of a
recent report on energy storage.
Skumanich was referring
to the residential energy stor-
age technology vendors that
were on display at Intersolar’s
EES North America in July.
“Resi solar really isn’t a
real market and the reason
for that is because a diesel
generator is just so cheap,”
He added: “To some extent
if you are getting repeated
blackouts, you buy this capi-
tal equipment that sits there
for 99 percent of the time and
then for one percent of the
time you use it. So to me, it
just doesn’t make a compel-
ling business prospect.”
Skumanich believes that
in the developed and indus-
trialized world, where we
already have a fairly robust
grid, energy storage such as
batteries will not be econom-
ically viable until storage
costs come down consider-
ably or grid power becomes