By - Jim Vess

Will 2015 be the Biggest Year Yet for Energy Storage?

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One of renewable energy’s biggest challenges has always been that the fuel source availability is intermittent (the sun doesn’t always shine, the wind doesn’t always blow). Energy storage has responded to the call for help but faces its own challenges of continuing to try to decrease costs, increase efficiency of its systems, and increasing at-scale deployments. SunEdison’s recent acquisition of Solar Grid Storage LLC – the first renewable energy company to make such an investment reflects some big changes that may be in the works for this burgeoning industry in 2015.

GTM Research predicts an over 3-fold increase in energy storage installations in 2015, from 64MW to 220MW. Although a majority of the growth has been in-front-of-the-meter storage, experts predict that behind- the-meter storage is going to catch up quickly in market share over the next several years.

What’s fueling this sudden acceleration? Changes in regulatory policy (including FERC’s Orders 755 and 784, and incentives for development in California, New York, and Texas), increased development of renewable energy sources, development costs for batteries continuing to decrease while efficiencies increase are just some of the factors in play.

To be honest, although I do my best to keep up on what’s going on in the energy industry at large, I was surprised that SunEdison was the first renewable energy company to make such an investment. It seems like the perfect partnership that often leads to innovation and growth when two industries that share similar goals join forces – a larger, well established firm that can provide resources, including staff, finances, and customers – to a firm with innovative concepts and products that just needs a bit of a push to get it out into the mainstream.

The benefits of this acquisition will eventually become clearer as time passes, but I predict we’ll start to see more of these types of partnerships emerge in the next several years. CleanTechnica’s list of 42 battery storage companies to watch in 2015 shows just a small sampling of just how much potential the storage industry has – in installations, technology development, and innovative partnerships that will help sustainable sources of energy really take hold.

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