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New Reports Trace Global Boom in Renewable Energy Storage

After several years of global energy storage expanding at breakneck pace, two new forecasts point to the trend continuing this year with a near tripling of capacity.

“To help put [the projection] into perspective, the world reached a landmark one gigawatt of new energy storage capacity in 2016. Five years later, that record year is what happens in a good month,” reports Inside Climate News.

One of the forecasts arrived in a new report from energy research firm Wood Mackenzie, which projects that new 2021 storage capacity will register at 12.4 GW, compared to 4.9 GW the year before. By 2030, new capacity is expected to reach an estimated 70 GW—equating to a 14-fold increase over this decade. 

But the projections come with a high degree of uncertainty because of unknowns regarding market development, government aid, and new technologies.

“People can see a future where there’s a much bigger—like 10-fold, 20-fold—increase in storage services over a decade,” said David Victor, co-director of the Deep Decarbonization Initiative at University of California. “That future is starting to come into focus, but it’s really still a murky vision because there’s a lot of experimentation continuing to be done.”

The United States seems to be leading the charge on energy storage. Inside Climate writes that the Biden administration has recognized a national interest in staying at the forefront of battery technologies, with the U.S. Department of Energy now aiming to reduce energy storage costs by 90% by 2030. Combined with China, the energy storage of the two countries is expected to be 73% of the world’s total by 2030.

An assessment by the Clean Energy Technology service at IHS Markit corroborates WoodMac’s findings. The IHS Markit report finds that “the outlook is underpinned by a growing number of ambitious national energy storage targets linked to strengthened decarbonization commitments from around the globe,” says the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA). The report particularly notes China’s recent announcement of a 30-GW target for storage by 2025 that will help accommodate Asia’s growing share of global demand.

“What you can see are the pieces of a storage industry coming together in a huge deployment into the future,” Victor told Inside Climate News.