Energy supplement: Has battery storage come of age?

Ask any infrastructure investor or energy financier what the most promising trend in the industry is and the answer is almost always storage. Storage is widely seen as the answer for the intermittency issues faced by renewables: grid-scale battery products that can store the power when there is a surplus of wind or solar power.

The US Energy Storage Association reported the US market grew 284 percent in 2016, representing $812 million of investments in the sector. According to market research firm IHS, the US will be the largest energy storage market in 2017 and will account for 43 percent of global installations between 2012 and 2017. The firm projects that the sector will continue to grow and by 2022 there will be over 40GW of installed storage capacity.

The result is increased interest from investors. Swiss firm SUSI Partners is nearing a second close on its first energy storage fund. The vehicle sealed a €66 million first close in March and the second close is scheduled for the summer after it garners a further €50 million. The vehicle is looking to raise about €200 million.

But is the market ready for lift off? The potential for investing in battery storage products was one of the hot topics of discussion at our Renewable Energy Forum in Berlin in March.

Panellists highlighted the strides made in technology to the point where electricity really can be stored, managed and used at the intervals it is needed. But investors still have their doubts. Just under half of attendees said they plan to invest in storage over the next 12 months but say that barriers remain, notably worries over revenue streams.