Beacon, a publicly traded company, has been researching and developing its flywheel design for about 10 years and is confident the technology is ready to be scaled up significantly.
The company applied this month for $47 million in DOE stimulus grants to build two more 20-megawatt plants, one in New York and another in the PJM Interconnection. Awards for the $615 million program are expected to be announced in November, the company said.
Capp said one of his company's challenges is proving the value of large-scale storage to investors without any projects to point to as examples. For that reason, he said, "the DOE loan guarantees and grants are perfectly timed."
A123's 32-megawatt-hour battery would be assembled using racks of smaller batteries at a substation in Southern California's Tehachapi Mountains. The battery would be used to counterbalance wind power sent from the mountains to the utility's customers in the west and south.
Tucson Electric Power Co. earlier this month said it is requesting $25 million in stimulus cash to help fund the "Bright Tucson" project, which would use a suite of energy storage systems including lithium-based batteries, underground compressed-air storage and demand response, in which utility customers act as a collective battery by allowing appliances to be remotely shut off when power demand peaks.
Room to grow
A wild card for the energy storage industry might be coming from Congress: requirements to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The House-passed climate and energy bill would attach a price to carbon-intensive electricity and call for a dramatic increase in the use of renewable energy. A Senate climate bill is expected to be released this week.
Meanwhile, states are moving ahead. Already, eight states have passed renewable standards that encourage energy storage, said Chris Hickman, senior vice president of Ice Energy, a Colorado maker of thermal storage units that shift consumption to off-peak hours.
But the industry has room to grow even if Congress fails to pass a climate bill, according to a report this month by GTM Research.
"One of the major pieces required to make the new smart grid effective is a buffer in the system that can store energy to balance the whole grid system," said John Kluza, the report's author.
The report found that "power oriented" energy storage -- used mainly to regulate short-term changes to grid frequency -- will grow quickly in the near to midterm but will be constrained in the long term by a limited market. In contrast, "energy oriented" storage -- in which energy use is shifted to other times of the day -- has a massive total market size and is only beginning to emerge.
In 2009, an estimated 147 megawatts of energy-oriented storage were developed, the report found. But in 2015, 1,321 megawatts are expected to be produced, with revenues of $1.98 billion.
The report forecasts overall market size to reach 85,000 megawatts in the United States and 450,000 megawatts worldwide.
Reprinted from Greenwire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500