Energy storage market, key players, new technologies and competitors

Several energy storage projects that were under construction early in the year reached commercial operation in 3Q 2016. New projects are being announced on a routine basis, and the global energy storage industry is continuing to explore different business cases that make energy storage systems (ESSs) profitable. Innovative applications like renewables integration and behind-the-meter (BTM) systems are becoming economically attractive, resulting in new geographic markets continuing to open up.

According to Navigant Research, lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries remain the leading form of storage for new projects worldwide, accounting for 83.0% of newly announced ESS capacity storage through 3Q 2016 (excluding pumped hydro storage). Li-ion batteries are the most popular technology for the growing distributed energy storage system (DESS) and BTM market segments.


Also notable within the market is the increase in announced projects utilizing flow batteries and hybrid battery systems. Hybrid systems are advantageous in that they can provide multiple services to the grid based on dynamic conditions and specific requirements. While market activity has picked up in a number of regions during 2016, North America remains the largest market for newly announced ESSs. An estimated 1,997.3 MW of new ESSs have been announced worldwide in 2016 so far, with approximately 15.8% coming from North America.

The role of systems integrator

As the energy storage industry continues developing, the role of the systems integrator is becoming more and more important. Integrators are responsible for maximizing the value of a system by enabling all available revenue streams to be captured, ensuring constant availability, and maximizing system life. Energy storage systems (ESSs) will increasingly be asked to serve different applications—ranging from short-duration and high-power ancillary services to long-duration time shifting of energy. Systems integrators are responsible for managing this complexity by designing systems that can provide the maximum value to both the grid and the system owners.

An emerging trend in the utility-scale energy storage systems integration (ESSI) space is the growing diversity of the backgrounds of leading players. A new report from Navigant Research studies companies with backgrounds in renewable project development, utility ownership, electrical grid equipment and services, battery manufacturing, civil and electrical engineering services, and innovative energy management systems. According to the report top companies are: AES Energy Storage, RES, S&C Electric, Siemens, NEC Energy Solutions, Greensmith, LG CNS, Invenergy, GE Energy Storage and ABB.

Systems integrators emerging as leaders have leveraged their backgrounds to provide a range of flexible solutions that include full turnkey project development. Such a model allows for a more open approach to meeting the needs of various customers and is expected to allow a company’s business to scale rapidly.

Next-generation advanced battery companies

Despite the progress made by commercially available lithium ion (Li-ion), advanced lead-acid, flow, and molten salt batteries, the path toward the commercialization of new battery chemistries continues. Several new advanced battery chemistries are projected to become commercialized in the coming years. Meanwhile, motive transportation energy storage needs will be met by commercially available Li-ion batteries during the next decade. The majority of batteries for grid-tied stationary energy storage will be Li-ion, along with a mix of advanced lead-acid, flow, and sodium sulfur (NaS) batteries. Sales growth for pre-commercial next-generation advanced battery (NGAB) chemistries in both sectors is not expected to accelerate until 2021-2025.

Lithium solid-state (Li-SS) is anticipated to be the first new battery chemistry for the transportation sector, and advanced flow batteries will likely be the first new technology for the stationary energy storage sector. Companies working to commercialize NGAB technologies that partner with well-funded Li-ion battery technology companies and energy companies will be at a strategic advantage.

Navigant Research anticipates that those that show progress toward commercialization will likely receive investment or will be acquired by the current leading Li-ion companies. In 4-6 years, these established Li-ion battery technology companies will be well-positioned to add technologies to their manufacturing, supply chain, and sales channels.

According to Navigant Research the well-positioned companies are: Lockheed Martin Energy, Sion Power, Seeo, Solid Power, ESS Inc., 24M, Nohm Technologies, Sakti3, OXIS Energy and WattJoule.

Source: Navigant Research