The Energyst: Energy storage ‘will wipe out battery storage’

There are quick bucks to be made from battery storage. But in three or four years, many assets will be in the bin, reckons redT chief Scott McGregor. He claims sustainable energy storage that can handle multiple functions for decades without degrading is now viable. Brendan Coyne reports.

Scott McGregor, CEO of energy storage firm redT, believes market sizing predictions and the recent rush to secure frequency response contracts obscure fundamental truths. He says battery storage as opposed to energy storage is unsustainable – and many of today’s frequency response “arbitrage exploitation” opportunities may not exist in three years’ time.

Neither, he says, will some of the assets.

“The returns [for frequency response] are currently good. That’s nice, but they are batteries which will degrade and have to be thrown away – and that revenue opportunity will also run away pretty quickly.”

McGregor points to California, which he suggests is suffering a lithium hangover. Battery owners that piled into frequency response now spy other revenue streams. But, says McGregor, “they can’t access them because the battery is only warrantied to provide one service – and if they do more it will burn out”.

“Lithium is very good if you focus it on a short cycle, not very often. Do that and it will last you ten years,” he says. “But if you try to frequently perform multiple functions, the lithium will be gone in a few years.”

That poses a problem, given the need to ‘stack’ revenue streams together to build business cases and secure finance.

McGregor thinks the solution is flow-based energy storage, potentially in tandem with lithium or lead acid as a hybrid.

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