2011 was certainly a standout year for energy storage. A key indicator of an increasingly supportive international environment for the space was the tremendous growth seen in investment capital worldwide. According to Ernst & Young, U.S. energy storage investment alone rose 253% from 2010 to $932.6 million in 2011. In fact, energy storage led all cleantech investment sectors in Q3 with $524 million in VC injections. This came as awareness of not only the vast array of beneficial applications of energy storage grew, but also as the cost of previously cost-prohibitive technologies continued to fall into attainable range for wide-scale production and application.
Energy storage saw boons in legislative support as well, as policies were introduced and passed to support its development and application, adding to commercial and investor awareness alike. This is certainly smoothing the way towards great increases in research capital and sector growth.
Most notable of policy support was the introduction of the Storage Technology of Renewable and Green Energy Act (STORAGE) by Senators Wyden, Collins, Bingaman which would recognize energy storage as a stand-alone technology, the spectrum of which would therefore be eligible for rebates similar to those given for renewable energy installation via the ITC (investment tax credit). This would mean that businesses and homeowners alike would be eligible to recoup up to 30% of storage project costs, including those for batteries and other storage technologies.
Another much-talked-about impact to the regulatory environment came with an important amendment to the California SGIP (Self Generation Incentive Program). The program, which has offered incentives for various energy-related cleantech in the state since 2001, previously incentivized energy storage only if it was directly connected to a renewable energy project. The amendments made last year, like that of the Storage Act of 2011, include updating the program’s view of energy storage to that of a stand-alone technology eligible for incentive independent of the energy source it is connected to. It should be noted that, like in much of the SGIP, this incentive favors end-user vs. utility-level implementation.
These three key indicators of energy storage sector momentum; 253% growth in investment, introduction of the Storage Act of 2011, and amendment of the CA SGIP, speaks volumes to the propulsion of energy storage into key playing position in the international energy community and related business and investment communities that stand to benefit from it’s growth.