One of the quirks of the technology explosion is the growth of one industry sparked by another. Just as the incredible popularity of cell phones and tablets has created a thriving market for peripherals like covers, cases and kickstands, the increasing market share of electric cars will help launch an industry for chargers and other supporting infrastructure.


Similarly, the growth of renewable power has also created a need for another technology. Because wind and solar power are not always generated when they are needed, storage is essential. Electricity storage can function on a large scale for utility generated power or on a smaller scale to support distributed generation in microgrids (see Chuck Ross’ story on residential energy storage on page 44).


According to a recent report, the latter market is about to blow up. Boulder, Colo.-based market research firm Navigant Research released data in February that projects the capacity of the energy-storage market for microgrids to expand worldwide by nearly 2,000 percent from 817 megawatt-hours (MWh) in 2014 to 15,182 MWh by 2024.


The driving forces behind this trend, according to Navigant, will be the high cost of diesel fuel and the push toward renewable power. Simply put, electricity storage will help microgrid operators save money by relying less on costly diesel-generated power and more on free solar and wind.


In this study, microgrids are categorized as either grid-tied or remote and can be customer-, utility- or military-owned. The firm also examines growth for various types of storage technology. It projects advanced batteries and flywheels to take up a progressively greater share. In the North American, grid-tied, customer-owned market—where the strongest growth is expected to occur—the preference will be for lithium-ion batteries, which are anticipated to take up to 40 percent of market share.