Frost & Sullivan believes alternative energy storage market has a bright future

The biggest challenge currently faced by the global renewable energy sector is the lack of efficient storage mechanisms. The need to store energy generated through sources such as wind and solar, and the preference for cleaner storage techniques is creating opportunities for alternative energy storage technologies worldwide.  
Due to concerns over climate change and energy shortages, investment in alternative energy storage is quickening. This investment is taking place despite the global economic slowdown. Many of these technologies will also have military applications.
“While most industries are stalling major projects and investments, the alternative energy storage industry is embarking on a busy expansion spree,” says Frost & Sullivan`s  Programme Manager Malavika Tohani. “The lustre this industry promises is too bright to even be eclipsed by the current conditions.”

Not only are investments in technologies such as flywheels and fuel cells on the rise, but 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. The technology therefore offers at least as many opportunities as the current conventional battery market. In 2008, Frost & Sullivan estimated that the traditional secondary battery market was worth $30 billion globally. Alternative energy storage solutions occupied less than 1% of this share.  

Environmental concerns and energy security are expected to be major drivers of the market.  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 stabilise the transmission and distribution grid.

However, despite the potential of alternative energy storage technology, it still has a long way to go before it finds mainstream acceptance.  The industry will not be able to produce clean storage solutions that are as efficient, cost-effective, and advantageous as traditional batteries for a few years yet. There is still some way to go before developing storage technologies that lack the negative features of batteries, yet do not compromise any of the benefits.  

In addition, alternative energy storage solutions can not be universally used as batteries. The nature of each technology limits its usage in specific applications and end-user markets. Its potential therefore rather lies in creating niche solutions for specialised applications.