The growth of the South Korean energy storage system (ESS) industry is slowing down in the wake of the 20 or so mysterious fire accidents that occurred within the past two years. The profits of major ESS manufacturers dropped in the first quarter of this year and a number of small firms are on the verge of going under. Out of the 1,490 related facilities in South Korea, 522 stopped their operation until April 30 at the request of the government.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced on May 2 that it would come up with its final investigation result early next month after completing its investigation without delay and the result would come with how to enhance the safety of the systems and how to help grow the industry.
The South Korean ESS industry has shown an unprecedentedly rapid growth. The government applied a 500 percent renewable energy certificate (REC) weighted value to such systems based on solar power in 2017, and then a large number of workplaces began to adopt those systems. South Korean companies accounted for approximately 80 percent of the global ESS market last year. In the first half of 2018, the total ESS installation capacity in South Korea reached 1.8 GWh with a year-on-year growth of more than 2,000 percent. According to the United States Department of Energy, the United States and South Korea came in first and third in the world at the end of 2016 with 452.6 MWh and 142.4 MWh in ESS installation capacity, respectively.
Some experts pointed out that the South Korean government’s investigation is taking too much time. “Energy storage systems are characterized by burning up in fires and our ongoing investigation is covering multiple systems manufactured by multiple companies,” the government said in response.