23 December 2009


Alternative Energy Storage

The need for storing energy along with the preference for cleaner storage techniques opens the door to enormous opportunities for alternative energy storage technologies in numerous end user and almost all geographical markets worldwide. Frost & Sullivan¡'s program manager Malavika Tohani has no doubts: While most industries are stalling major projects and investments, the alternative energy storage industry is embarking on a busy expansion spree. The luster this industry promises is too bright to be eclipsed by meltdowns. Investments in technologies such as flywheels and fuel cells are on the rise. Additionally, venture capitalists and government agencies have shown great interest in the potential of alternative energy storage.

The main purpose of alternative energy storage technology is to replace conventional batteries and, thus, offer as many opportunities as the current conventional battery market. In 2008, the traditional secondary battery market was worth approximately US$30 billion globally, while alternative energy storage solutions occupied less than 1% of this share. With the recent boom in renewable energy, the need for cleaner storage technologies has become more pressing than ever. The biggest challenge faced by the renewable energy sector is the lack of efficient storage mechanisms; therefore, the alternative energy storage market is expected to grow substantially.

Coming into 2009, the limited availability of credit for investment into the research and development of alternative energy storage solutions coupled with falling oil and gas prices might inhibit the growth of this sector. However, environmental concerns and energy security are expected to be major drivers of the market, despite the economic downturn. Moreover, with renewable energy generation such as wind or solar being intermittent in nature, storage of energy helps balance the load during peak demand. It also helps stabilize the transmission and distribution grid.

It is not just alternative storage that is showing promises. Energy storage as a whole offers a strong growth potential. Increased demand for hybrid and electric vehicles has stimulated growth in the lithium-ion battery market. Frost & Sullivan estimates the electric and hybrid vehicle market to reach US$2 billion by 2014, and the lithium-ion battery market is expected to grow right along with it. In general, the renewable energy market seems well equipped to withstand the current recession.

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