Battery Is Energizing the Markets

Competition by 2020

The Brattle Group has estimated that FERC’s decision to allow battery-storage to compete with other energy resources in the wholesale electricity markets by 2020 could help unleash as much as 50 gigawatts of battery-stored power into US markets, enough to light up 6 million homes.

Batteries have come a long way from powering toys, remote controls and watches.

Today, they are energizing most things we use – from laptops to smartphones to cars. And they are poised to power even our homes, offices and businesses.

Giant batteries charged by renewable resources such as solar and wind power are competing against natural-gas fired plants to supply electricity to residential and business customers during peak demand hours. And the competition will intensify in the coming years, buoyed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s ruling last month allowing battery-stored power to compete with others including fossil-fuel power in the wholesale electricity markets by the end of 2020.

litium battery

FERC Commissioner Richard Glick noted that battery storage capacity is expected to grow more than sevenfold over the next five years, with performance that “is equal to or, in some cases, superior to conventional forms of generation.”

grid energizer

FERC’s ruling is a watershed event for many companies engaged in developing giant battery-storage such as AES Corp., Tesla Inc., Siemens AG and General Electric Co. since they can compete against traditional gas-fired power plants in the wholesale electricity market in a couple of years – helped by maturing technology and falling prices.

In fact, the battery-storage market is expected to grow exponentially in coming years as some utilities look for less-expensive alternatives to the natural gas-fired power plants that are switched on during peak hours to meet residential and commercial demand.

Known as peakers, these plants are expensive to run, and typically are called into service only when demand rises and regular supplies are insufficient. Hence, utilities could be opting for cheaper battery-stored power in the future as their prices keep declining.

The Brattle Group has estimated that the energy commission’s recent ruling could help unleash as much as 50 gigawatts of battery-stored power into U.S. markets, enough to light up 6 million homes.

tipping point

GE recently launched a new battery platform called GE Reservoir to store electricity generated by wind turbines and solar panels for later use. It’s a grid-scale battery that allows energy operators to store large amounts of energy and release it when customers need it or when the price is right.

The GE Reservoir has 15% longer life and 5% higher efficiency as compared to the average, according to GE. It will provide a customized battery storage solution that will allow customers to manage energy output for their wind, thermal and solar needs.

“The energy landscape is undergoing an unprecedented paradigm shift, as the growth of renewables, decentralization of power and digitization create both new challenges and opportunities in how power is generated, transmitted and distributed,” said Russell Stokes, President and CEO of GE Power. “GE’s Reservoir delivers the new type of energy system that customers are looking for to help manage electricity’s next chapter.”

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