Published in January 2022 by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Storage Futures Study explores the potential energy storage’s role and impact in the nation’s changing electricity sector. Specifically, it looks at how advances in technology could impact the deployment of utility-scale and distributed storage. It is the sixth in a series of studies by NREL. The current study builds on existing models to construct various cost and performance scenarios.
The study makes several significant observations about energy storage in the United States. For example, it finds that solar and storage work well together. The study notes that existing storage operations are “heavily aligned” with solar technology because the latter has a predictable, daily, on-and-off cycle.
In contrast, wind power tends to “over-generate” on a daily, or even hourly, basis and does not have a predictable daily cycle.
The study also notes that on an annual basis, storage provides effective time-shifting and peak-load reduction services in a variety of scenarios and configurations on the grid.
The study finds that while energy storage has relatively low capacity in the United States, that capacity is highly used. As much as 75% of storage capacity is used in the study’s various scenarios.
The lab concludes that storage increases the efficiency of many power system assets. It reduces carbon emissions by allowing renewable generation to displace coal and natural gas. Lastly, it increases use of existing transmission lines.
The study concludes that U.S. storage capacity has the potential to experience a more than fivefold increase from about 24 gigawatts to more than 125 GW by the end of 2050.