The U.S. energy storage market set a new record in the third quarter of 2021, with new system installations totaling 3,515 MWh, according to Wood Mackenzie and the U.S. Energy Storage Association’s (ESA) latest U.S. Energy Storage Monitor report. With the momentum in the market, the groups indicate the storage record will likely be broken in the fourth quarter.
In addition, an expected solar investment tax credit (ITC) extension, standalone storage ITC, and California solar and storage mandate are all assumed in the forecast for the first time this quarter, significantly increasing forecast storage deployment.
“The Storage Decade has arrived,” stated Jason Burwen, the interim chief executive of the U.S. Energy Storage Association. “After achieving one gigawatt of annual installations for the first time last year, U.S. energy storage companies just installed one gigawatt of projects in one quarter.
The third quarter saw the utility-scale front-of-the-meter (FTM) market deploy 998 MW/ 3,198 MWh, with California, Texas and Arizona leading the segment.
California continued to lead in FTM project deployment, with a trio of projects developed by NextEra Energy Resources near Blythe contributing the majority of the MW for the quarter. Storage projects in Texas developed by Broad Reach Power also boosted third quarter FTM capacity.
Utility-scale vs. residential
Wood Mackenzie expects up to 4.7 GW of utility-scale storage to come into operation in 2021, according to Vanessa Witte, storage analyst. This “means this record-breaking quarter is only the beginning of a wave of major new projects set to come online this year and next.”
Installations increased slightly in the residential market as attachment rates continue to rise, with another 97.9MW/225 MWh of new residential storage brought online in the quarter.
But project timelines for residential solar-plus-storage remain problematic, with solar module and battery constraints among the challenges contributing to project backlogs. However, vendors and installers managed to increase residential storage deployment over the second quarter.
The non-residential market recorded its best quarter of 2021 so far, with 43.6 MW/92.1MWh deployed. Commercial virtual net metered and community solar projects with storage attached contributed most of the non-residential capacity in the third quarter, with most behind-the-meter non-residential projects sited in California.
Burwen said: “The pace of energy storage installations will continue breaking records for years to come, particularly once Congress enacts an ITC for energy storage.
“Both distributed storage and large-scale storage will continue strong growth while decarbonizing our economy, increasing power system resilience, and creating jobs.”