Investors move toward energy storage

Recently, investors like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have been investing in energy storage companies. This is moving in the direction that Citi Bank has suggested will be the “next big solar boom,” since solar and other renewables are already in the mix and there is a need for balancing power supply with demand.

Last week, Gates and well-known cleantech investor Vinod Khosla last week bought into Varentec, a US company that is developing “smart” technology that will link storage devices and renewables, and lead to what Khosla describes as “cost-effective, intelligent, decentralized power grid solutions.”

Energy storage, as described by investment bank Citi in its new “Energy Darwinism” report, is likely to be the next solar boom. Citi says the main driver of this investment will not be just to make renewables cost competitive, because they already are in many markets – but for the need to balance supply and demand.

This, in turn, will make solar and other renewables even more attractive. It may even mean the end to the domination of centralised utilities, as storage will allow the industry to split into centralised backup (based around the old rate-of-return regulated utilities model) and much smaller “localised” utilities that harness distributed generation such as solar and storage.

Even though energy storage technology can be seen as a way to undercut the utilities, utilities are also working on storage technology to work in concert with the grid in order to keep it from being overloaded by the influx of solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources. It’s no secret that energy production is changing and the current grid is not prepared to handle these changes en masse. With renewables and energy storage, the grid - and the industry - will be able to handle the changes that come.

Read about storage technology investment at RenewEconomy.