Grid-scale energy storage growing in China

Boston, July 25, 2012 — In 2012, China's electric grid will become the largest in the world in terms of both installed generation capacity and electricity produced. China also possesses the world's largest installed wind power base and the world's largest declared investment in renewable energy.

These facts alone suggest that China is also the most attractive market for energy storage in the world, even though China currently has just 4 percent of the worldwide energy storage capacity.

Whereas other markets have focused on power quality and ancillary services, China's grid energy storage market has developed with a focus on renewable energy integration, load-shifting and peak shaving.

In a new report, Azure International and GTM Research forecast that pumped-hydro storage capacity will reach 40 to 60 GW by 2016, while other storage technologies will rise from currently insignificant levels to over 700 MW installed by 2016, creating an annual $500 million market.

With strong government support and steadily improving technology, the study anticipates the energy storage market will grow to a $500 million per year market by 2016. In this 142-page report, we analyze the market's outlook with a realistic assessment of the policy, market and technical barriers that energy storage faces.

Key findings:

China's grid power market is not yet structured to provide incentives for certain important energy storage applications, and needed reforms may be too complex and far-reaching to implement in the next few years.

Chinese power producers and grid operators are just beginning to work with energy storage.

Over the next five years, the energy storage market will be driven by policy. The central government has already recognized energy storage as an element of its Strategic Emerging Industries plan. This should lead to strong government support, which may include feed-in tariffs, large-scale demonstrations, and directives to certain regions and companies to develop the industry further.

Attractive applications within China's energy storage market will differ substantially from the U.S. market. China will emphasize energy-oriented applications over power-oriented applications.

Most experts have underestimated the will, ability and intention of China to expand domestic energy resources as a means to ensure national energy security. There is precedent for the energy storage sector to follow a similarly ascendant path.

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