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Energy Storage Market Dynamic, But Still Immature, Pike Finds

Almost 600 energy storage projects have been announced or deployed worldwide, and such installations are gaining momentum, according to Pike Research.

Pike said energy storage technologies offer the potential for a wide range of long-duration and short-duration applications, for balancing electric grid operations and improving efficiency.

Research analyst Anissa Dehamna said the energy storage market is dynamic, but largely immature, with most active projects using decades-old pumped hydro techniques. Pike’s Energy Storage Tracker 4Q11 found that a vast majority of announced energy storage capacity – 136,454 MW – is traditional pumped storage (see chart, above).

But a number of companies are investing in emerging technologies, which include advanced batteries, compressed air energy storage, flywheels, thermal storage and new pumped storage, such as seawater and closed-loop systems. And Pike said these technologies have a large share of market activity, considering their immaturity.

The research house said its tracker captures a wide variety of technology sub-types. Batteries in the tracker include sodium sulfur, lithium ion, lead acid, flow and NiCd. Compressed air systems include traditional, iso-thermal and modular systems.

Thermal energy storage technologies include both rooftop and built-in systems. Some systems use molten salt, while others are ice-based units such as those sold by Ice Energy, Calmac and Baltimore Aircoil. But Pike said it has not been possible to incorporate all thermal energy storage projects into the tracker as much of this information is not publicly available.

Pike compiled the research using phone and in-person interviews with industry leaders, including technology companies, utilities, industry associations, government agencies and investors, as well as secondary research.

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