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US Energy Secretary hints energy storage could be on par with oil boom in disruptive capacity

United States Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has hinted in an inverview with Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) that energy storage has the potential to dramatically change the way that electricity is generated and delivered–and uptake is growing rapidly. As in Australia, more and more homes and businesses in the USA are looking to reduce their reliance on electricity from the grid and protect themselves from increasing power bills.

It is widely believed among renewable energy advocates that energy storage could accelerate uptake of renewable energy technologies both in developed and developing economies. To bring about the age of energy storage more quickly, the International Renewable Energy Association, for example, has set out to develop a roadmap to facilitate greater deployment of storage technologies around the world. 

Given that–in contrast to the conventional, centralised utility model of electricity generation & distribution–energy storage facilities can be distributed across the grid, energy storage holds enormous promise. It threatens incumbent players in the electricity industry, and paired with renewable energy technologies also promises to reduce the country’s reliance on imported energy.  Energy storage is therefore “a huge deal,” said Mr Moniz

As BNEF analysts Bradley Olson and Mark Chediak point out in the article, affordable energy storage could be a complete game-changer for the oil industry, especially with the advent of electric vehicles. Right now, much of the US’s (and the world’s) transportation infrastructure is reliant on oil as fuel. Were electric vehicles to become commonplace, the importance of oil for this purpose would be greatly diminished.

Mass production of EV’s would also have the knock-on effect of reducing the cost of energy storage/batteries. Indeed, driving down the cost of batteries through mass production is one of Tesla founder Elon Musk’s explicit intentions with the planned development of a massive battery manufacturing plant (the ‘Gigafactory’) to soon be underway in California.

Australia, with its vibrant residential solar PV market, is one of the countries with the biggest potential for energy storage to become viable quickly. Affordable energy storage would allow homes & small businesses with solar systems to free themselves to a large degree from having to pay for expensive electricity from the grid by enabling them to store their solar energy for use when the sun isn’t shining.

Top image: US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, via US Department of Energy.

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