The use of ‘off peak’ energy storage in the United States will grow by 150 percent for the next five years, according to a market report.NORWALK, Connecticut, US, 2001-12-03 [SolarAccess.com] “The U.S. electric utility industry is reeling from shortages, new regulations, environmental concerns and, all the while, increasing demand,” concludes ‘Electric Utility Load Leveling,’ published by Business Communications in Connecticut. Many power facilities cannot cut back operations and are forced to generate unused power. The market for load leveling in the U.S. will be US$11 million this year, but will increase to $1.3 billion by 2006. “This growth builds on an established suite of established energy storage approaches that have been waiting for improved market conditions,” notes the report. Much of the growth will come from compressed air energy storage, as projects reach a value of $953 million by 2006. Currently, there is virtually no use of compressed air for energy storage. Pumped hydro, the most common load-leveling technique in the U.S., should see a small revival as compromises are reached between utilities and environmentalists. By 2006, the technique should grow from no new value to estimated sales of $200 million. A small hydrogen economy should develop within five years, and will create a $60 million niche for fuel cells and hydrogen production and storage equipment that is optimized to level loads. The sale of fuel cells will be a small component of overall non-hydrogen fuel cell stack sales to utility and power generation consumers. Four other techniques are expected to grow to meet demand for storage: electrochemical batteries, flywheels, capacitive, and superconducting magnetic energy storage (SMES). All are expected to move from the laboratory to the commercial market although, beyond 2006, a “shakeout” should occur in the load leveling market, with the majority of sales going to the technique that is “best able to control costs while providing utilities and users with commercial solutions,” concludes the $3,750 report. Electrochemical batteries will rise from $6 to $40 million, while flywheel energy storage will rise from $1 to $6 million. Capacitive energy storage will go from $1 to $20 million, SMES will go from nothing to $30 million, and fuel cells will rise from $3 to $60 million in 2006.