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by Julian Spector
January 16, 2019

Author's note: This marks the third entry in our globetrotting series profiling the world's top storage markets. The first entry explores how storage developers tackle the volatility in the U.K. market. The second installment delves into why Germany's residential sector thrives as large-scale storage stalls.

South Korea proved itself the dark-horse winner of the global energy storage deployment race of 2018.

The nation had long been central to the storage industry as the home of two top lithium-ion manufacturers, LG Chem and Samsung SDI. But there wasn’t much to discuss on the deployment front.

Last year, a hearty government incentive kicked off a storage installation gold rush, which thrust South Korea ahead of the U.S. for annual installed energy storage capacity. It delivered 1.07 gigawatt-hours for the year according to Wood Mackenzie data, and is on track to beat that in 2019.

The peninsular country’s geopolitical circumstances make storage strategically useful in a way that few others countries have experienced. The presence of a domestic battery manufacturing base converts storage development into national economic imperative. 

With strong government involvement, South Korea accelerated its storage market in a way that sent ripples around the world. The deployment boom brought challenges of its own. Now policymakers must confront whether they rationed economic fuel for a long, sustainable burn, or doused the flames for a short-lived but brilliant burst.