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Bloomberg Sees Massive Growth in Grid-Scale Storage


Utility-scale batteries will be as common by 2028 as rooftop solar panels are now, and will grow into a US$250-billion market by 2040, according to new analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

With 28 GW of storage deployed in the next dozen years, BNEF expects batteries to revolutionize the way consumers use energy.

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“Batteries will get a boost as costs drop and developers see the chance for lucrative new revenue streams,” said BNEF storage analyst Julia Attwood. “Batteries could offer a whole range of services to the grid,” providing “the flexibility that will allow renewables a larger stake in energy generation.”

So far, about 95% of the world’s grid-connected energy storage is pumped hydro, and utility-scale batteries provide less than a gigawatt of capacity around the world. “By 2040, the industry will mushroom, storing and discharging 759 gigawatt-hours,” Bloomberg notes. That finding points to “a further challenge to the traditional utility business model, where power generation and distribution are monopolized in a single company. Energy storage devices can be used to smooth out variable power flows from wind and solar plants, reducing the need for large, centralized generation plants fired by fossil fuels.

The analysis points to electric car demand as the catalyst that is driving up battery production and slashing costs. “BNEF expects the technology to cost $120 a kilowatt-hour by 2030, compared with more than $300 now and $1,000 in 2010,” Bloomberg’s Anna Hirtenstein writes.

That would help grid managers solve the intermittency problem that comes with renewables—wind and solar plants don’t work in calm weather or at night, creating a need for baseload supplies to fill the gaps. Today, that’s done by natural gas and coal plants, but the role could eventually be passed to power-storage units.

By 2040, the researchers project EV sales hitting 41 million per year, a 90-fold increase over 2015. (h/t to InsideClimate News for pointing us to this story)