In my presentations to various government agencies, I often reference the story of the blind men and the elephant. This is a story with variations in many cultures, but it essentially involves several wise blind men coming upon an elephant for the first time. One grabs the trunk and exclaims that an elephant is like a snake! Another grabs the tusk and believes an elephant is like a spear, another the tail and believes the elephant is like a rope, another the side of the elephant and believes the elephant to be a wall, and so on. The blind men are accurate in their limited grasp of what an elephant “is”, but they don’t see the larger picture.
I use the analogy with energy storage and the VRB-ESS. Different players see the VRB energy storage system from their limited perspectives and they tend to have limited applications. Is the VRB-ESS a peak shifting resource, distributed energy resource, demand response, intermittent renewable energy integration, capital deferral of distribution / transmission assets, power quality, emergency power, on-site power, capacity, ancillary services – frequency regulation, and so on? The answer is yes, all of these, and we should “grasp” the greater value of multiple benefits.
Now Pike Research has a slightly different analogy regarding the market for energy storage, “The energy storage market is like a charging elephant: even if you can’t see what it looks like, you know it’s going to be big.” They have a report out that projects a 10 fold increase in the “stationary utility” market from 2008 to 2018 to $4.1 billion. Most market projections for energy storage include vehicles and small applications – like laptop computers – so this is unique and interesting. Energy storage in general, and the flexible and powerful VRB-ESS in particular, have an important and profitable future. More information can be found at their website: http://www.pikeresearch.com/