While many analysts have forecast rapid growth rates for wind generation over the next few years, NanoMarkets believes that growth in the wind industry will not be sustainable unless the matter of cost effective energy storage is addressed. The variable nature of wind energy generation leads to situations where power is created at times when demand is low, resulting in reduced revenue generation. Unpredictable wind power also has implications for conventional electricity grids which are not built to accommodate highly varying energy sources.
China is likely to account for over one third of all the revenues from energy storage systems sold to the wind power industry, believes NanoMarkets. The Chinese government plans to increase wind generation capacity in the country ten-fold in the next decade and will spend billions of dollars on storage facilities as part of its grid upgrade process.
The report notes that, while world-class Chinese energy storage firms are beginning to emerge, the rapid deployment of wind generation in China will also open up opportunities for overseas firms too.
The report notes that much of need for wind power storage at the present time is accounted for by lead-acid batteries, which represent low-cost and mature technology. However, NanoMarkets believes that the wind industry will quickly shift to newer higher performance battery technologies such as lead-carbon, sodium-sulfur and flow battery systems.
Furthermore, the higher performance and lifetimes of lead-carbon batteries compared to traditional lead-acid batteries will give lead-carbon the largest single share of wind-power energy storage sales by 2015 with sales that will exceed US$300 million in 2015. NanoMarkets also sees significant use of mechanical storage including pumped hydroelectric and compressed air storage.