Companies Attempt Mountaintop Energy Storage

Caves and mountaintops for electricity storage? That seems to be the newest development as companies ranging from Siemens to General Electric to Energy Cache are squeezing air into salt mines and running empty trains up hills. Their objective is to figure out how to capture the energy released as the air bursts out and the trains roll back down.

The renewables industry is now worth around $260 billion, and it needs reliable storage infrastructure so that surges from solar or wind farms can be adequately absorbed.

Currently, storage receives an annual investment of around $2.6 billion. This is expected to become just over $9 billion by 2015, and then jump to $25 billion by 2021. But GE hopes to see between $500 million to $1 billion in revenue from energy storage by 2020.

Currently, energy storage levels are at roughly 150 gigawatts, and nearly half of that is in the Asia-Pacific region with the rest spread between North America and Western Europe.

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