Energy storage technology has the potential to mitigate numerous challenges currently facing the electricity industry and consumers. Large-scale storage technology could help supply daily fluctuating demand in a cost-effective manner with minimal waste, as is already being done on small scales today. Effective storage technology can keep the lights on during severe storms, supply shortages and power interruptions, and help consumers avoid high utility rates by offsetting the need to generate new electricity during peak demand. Finally, energy storage facilitates the integration of variable renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power.
Despite this potential, the implementation of many types of storage technology is limited today, primarily due to the high cost of research and development for utility-scale storage implementation. Federal policy has sought to address this, most notably through Department of Energy (DOE) programs and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Orders. These initiatives aim to spur innovation and encourage utilities to rethink the existing transmission paradigm, and they have helped energy storage overcome hurdles in recent years. This issue brief will discuss these efforts and the opportunities they might elicit for energy storage, in addition to providing an overview of existing and developing energy storage technologies.