Lithium-ion and lead-acid will form the backbone of China’s energy storage market growth, according to a white paper by the not-for profit China Energy Storage Alliance in July.
For the first time, energy storage was listed among the top 100 most important national strategic projects in the Outline of the Economic and Social Development Thirteenth Five-Year Plan of the People’s Republic of China report.
While other technologies such as flow batteries, compressed-air energy storage and hydrogen storage are beginning to expand in scale, the big two chemistries dominate grid-scale service applications and distributed and microgrid projects.
However, the report found that consumers were comfortable with stable and cheap power from the grid, which led them to ignore meagre benefits from clean energy and energy storage systems.
A lack of specific policies and compensation mechanisms were singled out for blame, despite government guidance policies such as the 13th Five-Year Plan that repeatedly emphasized the importance of the energy storage industry.
Strengthening consumer demand, design and planning, project construction and standardized system were needed to make up for a lack of strong price signals and the emerging industry’s weak foundations, the report said.
Johnson Yu, chairman of the CESA, wrote that 2017 was a year of hope for the country’s energy storage industry.
“The industry will have access to greater resources, develop new technologies, find new business models, create new commercial value, and transform the power, transportation and construction sectors,” he wrote.
Looking at the numbers, he may have some reason for optimism.
As of the end of 2016, China had 24.3 GW of operational energy storage capacity, an increase of 4.7% from the previous year (mostly from pumped hydro). That included 243MW of battery storage projects – up 72% from last year – mainly sited in northwest (55%) and east-central (25%) regions.
From 2012 to 2016, battery deployment saw a compound annual growth rate of 54%, with China adding 101.4 MW of storage projects. This year an estimated 845.6MW of projects either in planning or currently under construction will add to the country’s total capacity.
Unsurprisingly lithium-ion makes up the bulk of deployments with 62%, with lead-acid reaching a 37% market share.
In terms of services, lithium-ion was the overwhelming chemistry of choice for renewable energy grid integration (79%), ancillary services (100%), and transmission/distribution applications (91%).
However, lead-acid batteries continue to hold their own in distributed generation and microgrid applications, accounting for 61% of the market.
Using its global energy storage database, CNESA found the top three energy storage system manufacturers based on installations of energy storage projects in China in 2016 were: Sungrow-Samsung, Sacred Sun Power Co (圣阳电源) and Shenzhen Clou Electronics Co (科陆电子).
The top 10 companies accounted for 98% of the total new capacity in China in 2016.