Rising energy prices from the Russia-Ukraine War have created a fertile ground for renewable energy development around the globe. Industry stakeholders continue to see the pace of energy storage systems not keeping pace with rapid industry growth.
In a survey put out by global manufacturer Jabil and consulting group SIS International Research, 88% of respondents said they are struggling to scale up production of energy storage systems to keep pace with heightened demand in the energy transition.
Out of 204 industry stakeholders surveyed in commercial and industrial segments, the group found that 87% of the respondents are considering manufacturing their own battery systems, with an evenly distributed survey group of end users (33%), assembly companies (33%) and module producers (25%).
About two-thirds of the survey group reported interest in making C&I battery solutions of 200 kWh to 1 MWh in power dispatch, while a 62% percentile also favored a slightly smaller 20 kWh to 199 kWh product group.
In a regional survey, the group reported North America (70%) as its preferred market, with California (43%), the Northeast U.S. (42%) and the Midwest (41%) showing the highest distribution rates of deliveries for energy storage systems.
About 78% of the Jabil/SIS survey group manages operates their own battery systems internally, while a 63% demographic procures distributed energy from storage under an energy-as-a-service contract through third-party providers.
More than 90% of the survey group uses lithium-ion battery systems, and 75% of the group plans to continue using the same battery systems.
A stark contrast emerged in the survey group around safer battery systems, with a 45% percentile concerned to find a safer solution and 55% not concerned to use alternative solutions to lithium batteries.
Nearly 90% of respondents cited an inability to manufacture at scale needed to meet global demand as their number one challenge in energy storage right now.
About 58% of respondents said they could see expansion opportunities into another energy storage market such as C&I, residential or utility solutions in the next three to five years.
Those who said they are not expanding generally noted that expansion does not align with the larger company strategy and focus, and the opportunity costs for doing so would outweigh the benefits. One respondent explained, “We are satisfied with our current energy storage solutions; the opportunity costs for changing them are very high.”
Respondents cited modularity of storage deployments as a common theme for an increased energy storage rate.
Sustainability is a key issue for energy storage companies in the years ahead, particularly as lithium batteries reach the end of their lives. However, the useful lives of batteries can often be extended in new applications.
Three-quarters (75%) of respondents said they plan to reuse their batteries in new storage systems or other products. A smaller grouping of 64% of respondents said they plan to use a direct recycling or metallurgical process to recycle batteries.
A bit of a contradiction was revealed when respondents were asked how they would integrate second-life batteries in their value stack. Despite high numbers indicating they would like to reuse their batteries, only 39% of the survey group said they expect to integrate second-use batteries originally used for a different purpose in their energy storage systems over the next decade. Instead, an 84% majority said they plan to use batteries that use recycled materials.
Despite respondents saying they plan to continue to use lithium-ion batteries for the next decade, the survey did show some margin for adding non-lithium battery alternatives.
Hydrogen fuel cells (20%) nearly replaced lead-acid batteries as the next generation alternative to lithium-ion batteries, while flow battery technologies (12%), thermal batteries (19%), compressed air storage (7%) and supercapacitors (13%) are some additional technologies over the next decade.
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