On July 13-14, 2009, I attended Infocast’s Storage Summit in La Jolla, California. The conference attracted over 200 attendees.

On day one, Jim Woolsey, Venture Partner and Senior Advisor for VantagePoint Venture Partners and Former Director of the CIA, delivered a keynote address that focused on the theme of the role of energy storage in achieving energy independence and security. Panel discussions included the following topics:

  1. Bringing Energy Storage to the Power Grid
  2. State Regulatory Policy
  3. Revising Regional Market Designs to Facilitate Storage: System Operators Views
  4. Utility Perspectives on Implementing Energy Storage
  5. Views of Storage Suppliers: What Policy and Market Change are Needed to Stimulate a Robust Storage Market?

On day two, Dr. Imre Gyuk, U.S. DOE Program Manager for Energy Storage Research, reported on ARRA stimulus funding initiatives and described research funding opportunities. With respect to the challenges facing DOE as it attempts to deploy massive amounts of funding, Gyuk stated, “It’s like trying to drink out of a fire hose.”

Many storage system developers reported that they are having problems “creating value” and monetizing their systems. These developers consistently called for a national storage portfolio standard similar to the RPS for renewable energy. This vibe created a lack of confidence in the attendees that were contemplating entering the market.

There was not much discussion of co-location of storage and renewable projects, but the wind and solar developers in attendance seemed open to the concept of co-location of storage if the price is right.

There was definitely a sense that the market is still in somewhat early stages.  However, a few days later, on July 16, 2009, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a policy statement that identified energy storage as one of four grid functionalities that FERC views as key to the development of future standards that will apply to smart grid technologies.  Hopefully, FERC’s support of the energy storage industry will stimulate further development and deployment of energy storage systems.