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The global market for superconducting magnetic energy storage (SMES) systems is projected to reach $57.2 million by 2018, driven by rising demand for advanced energy storage technologies in both on-grid and off-grid applications, according to a report by Global Industry Analysts Inc. (GIA).

The research firm says SMES systems store energy in a magnetic field, can instantly release stored energy and are well suited for shorter-duration energy storage applications. GIA adds that SMES systems offer quicker recharging and discharging, as well as the ability to recharge sequences several times without degradation of magnets.

GIA notes that SMES systems are predominantly used in applications that require low-energy storage and shorter duration of power supply. However, vendors are focusing efforts on the development of SMES systems with higher storage capacity, the firm reports. GIA says the SMES market is expected to benefit immensely from the increased focus on research and development initiatives for promoting and developing clean technologies, such as solar and wind power, as the intermittency of renewable generation continues to present challenges to the grid.

According to GIA, although market progress has hitherto been hampered by the high cost and low-energy density of SMES systems, efforts are now under way to bring down the cost of the technology. GIA says that the U.S. Department of Energy is funding a project that aims to enable SMES technology for use in MWh energy storage applications.

GIA finds that the Asia-Pacific region represents the largest market worldwide. According to the report, growth is being led by increased focus on smart grid development, microgrids, distributed energy generation and renewable energy integration. In addition, regulatory support to develop superconductivity in various applications is favoring growth of energy storage technologies such as SMES systems across Asia.

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