The Next 5 Years in Energy Storage, According to 500 Energy Professionals

Live attendee poll results from Greentech Media’s 2017 Energy Storage Summit crowdsourced insights panel.

Last month at Greentech Media's Energy Storage Summit, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel, Crowdsourced Market Insights: Role of Energy Storage in Creating the Grid of the Future. This panel employed a unique structure where our experts on stage were asked to interpret and weigh in as 500 attendees answered live polling questions on the top themes in the market. 

The results, with additional context from our research, are presented in a new research report, available for free here. Below, I summarize some key findings.

Storage will displace natural gas peakers (eventually!)


Only 1 percent of attendees feel that natural-gas plants will always out-compete storage, a perspective that may have been shaped by Shayle Kann’s earlier presentation indicating that 4-hour storage begins to compete with peaker plants within four years, and always wins financially within 10 years. The majority of attendees foresee energy storage dominance outside of a five-year time frame.

Broad optimism among the industry on utility engagement


More than four out of five attendees believe 41 percent or more of utilities will be including energy storage in their IRPs within five years -- and their optimism seems justified. GTM Research’s tracking shows the trend is not just emerging -- energy storage is becoming the norm in utility planning. 

In fact, Oregon is a sign of the times for utilities -- Portland General Electric recently announced RFPs for up to 39 megawatts, the upper limit of the state’s energy storage mandate. When was the last time we saw a utility outpace legislators?

Lithium-ion is the undisputed king – who will emerge as its challenger?


Flow batteries draw the most optimism, with nearly half of attendees citing them as the most exciting technology for utility-scale applications. As system durations continue to grow, flow battery manufacturers are increasingly bullish on their pricing, claiming the high ground for 6-hour or longer duration and even eyeing the coveted 4-hour mark.

In the most definitive result, solar emerges as storage’s one true love


According to GTM Research’s latest analysis, coming out this quarter, a residential solar-plus-storage system installed today in SDG&E, PG&E or SCE’s service territory in California can break even within seven years, even without the Self-Generation Incentive Program.

Utility-scale solar-plus-storage PPAs are also reaching record lows as costs drop, and recent analysis has examined just how low costs will have to go to sustain these rock-bottom LCOEs.

We also asked participants:

  • When will behind-the-meter megawatt deployments outstrip front of the meter?
  • What is the most effective way an energy storage project can differentiate itself from its competitors?
  • What will the keynote presentation be at Energy Storage Summit 2022? 
  • And more..

Download the free report here.