The global energy-storage market is expected to increase from $329 million in 2008 to $4.1 billion by 2018, according to a recent study from Pike Research, Boulder, Colo. The report, "Energy Storage Technology Markets," concludes that demand for energy storage is driven by several trends, including the proliferation of intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind and solar; the adoption of smart grid technology; and the rise of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles.

The report says that a major block to the development of energy-storage techniques has been a lack of support in the form of government subsidies and incentives, which historically have been granted to research into renewable energy. The study analyzes the opportunity for several key technology categories, including advanced batteries, pumped hydro, compressed air, flow batteries, and frequency regulation for utility-scale applications.