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US energy storage installations surge in Q1 — report

Solar panels. (Image from Pxhere, public domain).

About 910 megawatt-hours (MWh) of new energy storage systems were brought online in the United States during the first three months of 2021, an analysis by Wood Mackenzie and the US Energy Storage Association (ESA) has found.

According to the groups’ latest US Energy Storage Monitor, the 252% year-on-year increase followed the record-setting December quarter when more than 2,000 MWh of new energy storage systems were brought online.

WoodMac says the sequential slowdown has become “somewhat of an annual phenomenon” for the industry.

However, despite the dip this past quarter, the US storage market still notched its third-highest megawatt total for one quarter.

US energy storage installations surge in Q1

Deployments are expected to accelerate dramatically through 2021. WoodMac forecasts that nearly 12,000 MWh of new storage will be added in 2021, three times the new storage capacity added in 2020.

One of the most significant storage market developments was introducing a stand-alone storage investment tax credit (ITC) in Congress. If passed this year, a stand-alone storage ITC would result in a 20 to 25% upgrade to WoodMac’s five-year market outlook in megawatt terms.

An extra 20 to 25% growth for the US market over the next five years would supercharge an already fast-growing energy storage market

“An extra 20 to 25% growth for the US market over the next five years would supercharge an already fast-growing energy storage market. The front-of-the-meter (FTM) segment would see the largest incremental growth, with an extra 6 GW of capacity expected through 2025, which is 25% of our base case market forecast,” says WoodMac energy storage analyst Chloe Holden.

“Without the stand-alone storage ITC, we forecast that the FTM segment will add 3,674 MW in 2021 and 6,915 MW in 2026.”

The ESA’s interim CEO, Jason Burwen, declared the ‘storage decade’ was upon us with the convergence of a transforming power and transportation system and the growing need for decarbonisation and resilience.

“As the leading voice of the US energy storage industry, ESA is thrilled to see more record-setting growth for the industry,” Burwen says.

Overall in 2020, 1,464 MW / 3,487 MWh of new storage came online in the US. It means that 179% more storage was added in 2020 than in 2019 in MW terms.