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The Challenge: The energy storage market needs cost-effective storage solutions that can support a more efficient, flexible, and functional grid by providing advanced capabilities beyond traditional bulk energy shifting. MADA Energie has detailed knowledge of all deployed – and many emerging – energy storage technologies. Since 2013 we have been deeply involved in the development and understanding of the energy storage market – the challenges, needs, and wide array of solutions in the market each with their own advantages and disadvantages from both a performance and economic project perspective.

To place the energy storage market in context, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the U.S. had over 24.2 GW of rated power in energy storage as of April, 2017, while global energy storage totals about 176 GW. However, 95% of energy storage in the United States is from pumped hydro storage (22.6 GW), which features long lifetimes and high efficiency but is geographically limited to where water can be pumped between co-located reservoirs at different elevations. By comparison, installed generation capacity in the U.S. is 1,081 GW. 

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) categorizes grid energy storage technologies by their level of technology readiness and application. Energy storage applications for electricity grids can be categorized into three main categories, as a function of discharge time and power rating: Power Quality (typically < 1 MW, response time of seconds to minutes); Transmission and Distribution Grid Support Load Shifting (100 kW-10s of MW, generally discharging in minutes to hours); and Bulk Power Management (10s of MW-GW, discharging over multiple hours). The DOE’s classification for technologies it considers as likely to be commercially available within 3-5 years as of 2017 is shown in the table below.

Expertise & Market:

ENERGY STORAGE

While it is not shown in the table above, which focuses on electrical storage, thermal energy storage is another major player in the energy storage market (821 MW in the U.S. in 2016) and includes the use of chilled or frozen water to serve cooling loads in buildings. One of MADA Energie’s unique areas of expertise is in the application of an emerging thermal storage application called liquid air energy storage (LAES) for grid-scale renewable energy storage. LAES is similar in principle to compressed air energy storage but compresses and cools air further until it liquefies, making it appropriate for much larger bulk power management projects while avoiding the geographical constraints of PHS and CAES.

MADA’s main focus is on serving the rapid growth of utility-scale wind and solar generation. Electricity from utility-scale wind and solar electricity generation now costs less than conventional generation, even without considering subsidies for renewable energy. Electric utilities that have long depended on coal and gas are taking notice and investing billions of dollars in new wind and solar capacity, in part to replace coal and nuclear plants that have reached retirement age. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, additions of utility-scale wind (8.7 GW, on a base of 81.3 GW) and solar (7.7 GW on an installed base of 21 GW) in 2016 outpaced new natural gas generation (9 GW), while a combined 12 GW of coal and natural gas plants were retired.