The falling wind, solar and battery costs mean wind and solar are on target to supply almost 40% of world’s electricity in 2040 – It’s only 7% of the mix today. But this growth relies heavily on the developing battery storage. Utility-scale storage matched with renewable energy sources is where we need to be. Having the ability to hold on to excess energy and distribute on cue will continue to drive down the costs of renewable energy and give widespread access to clean energy.

Global energy storage installations

2018: 17 GWh
2024: 158 GWh
2040: 2,850 GWh

– latest forecast from research company BloombergNEF (BNEF) and Wood Mackenzie

The driving force behind the massive surge in storage is threefold – a rapid fall in the cost of lithium-ion batteries combined with a rapid rise in demand for stationary storage, and electric vehicles. The knock-on effect of this is innovation – the search for cheaper and more efficient storage solutions.

Hitting these projections will attract an estimated $662 billion in investment in storage, according to BNEF. And the big companies are already investing into the space. The latest example, BP partnered with Didi on August 1st to develop a brand-new charging network in China, home to more than half of the world’s electric vehicle fleet.

“Two big changes this year are that we have raised our estimate of the investment that will go into energy storage by 2040 by more than $40 billion, and that we now think the majority of new capacity will be utility-scale, rather than behind-the-meter at homes and businesses.”

– Yayoi Sekine, energy storage analyst for BNEF and co-author of the report

The Tesla Megapack – A real life case study

Tesla unveiled the Megapack at the end of July 2019, a utility-scale storage system to bridge the gap between the intermittency of solar and wind.

Consistency

The megapack is a utility-scale energy storage solution that can directly connect to renewable energy sources like solar and wind. This means power is constantly available when the clouds roll in or the wind ebbs.

Speed

A one gigawatt-hour plant over three acres can be deployed in under three months, more or less four times faster than a fossil fuel plant of the same output. To put it in context, one gigawatt-hour is enough storage to power every home in San Francisco for six hours.

Innovation

Tesla purchased Maxwell Technologies in February for $218 million. They have discovered a route to doubling battery density to 500 watt-hours per kilogram, enough to enable an electric jet to take off. The balance of payload and power has been a long-standing obstacle for viable electric flight and this kind of breakthrough is the kind that trickles down into storage technology across the board.

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Image credit: Tesla