When Solar Power International (SPI) opens its doors in Anaheim on Sept. 23, thousands of the industry executives and professionals flooding in will be there for a different event — Energy Storage International (ESI). The co-location of the two trade shows signals the extent to which solar and storage are now seen as essential, complementary and vital to the evolution of our industry.

Now in its second year, ESI also reflects the accelerating momentum of the U.S. storage market. As noted in the recently released 2018 Utility Energy Storage Market Snapshot, the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) has seen a small, but steady increase in the deployment of batteries across the U.S. As costs decline, the technology is gaining in economic competitiveness for an increasingly varied list of applications, from fast frequency response to solar smoothing, to following and meeting system peaks.

The impact storage is having on the electric power industry is difficult to capture in one metaphor. The perennials — such as “game changer”– no longer seem adequate. Attempting to encompass the technical flexibility, grid value and disruptive nature of storage, we have heard three — Swiss Army knife, bacon and grenade.

Always have your Swiss Army knife handy

Battery storage is frequently called a Swiss Army knife because, when it comes to grid services, it can do just about everything. Paired with a primary source of power generation, such as photovoltaic solar, storage is capable of providing best-in-class performance across all the established grid services


Mmmm … bacon

The technical flexibility of storage has led to a variety of economically viable deployments. It can produce individual value streams — such as, PJM Interconnection’s Reg D frequency regulation service or as part of microgrids for individual customer resilience. It can also be used for “value stacking,” that is, leveraging multiple applications from a single storage facility.

All of which provides a good segue to our second metaphor. Battery energy storage can be referred to as “grid bacon” because it “just makes everything better.” Like bacon, it can be enjoyed all by itself; or, and often more interestingly, it can be used to enhance the capabilities of other technologies. The range of deployments now emerging across the country can be framed either by duration or by scale.

Read more: SEPA Power