Siemens and GE are less leveraged to the space but should come out as the biggest winners in terms of market volume. Siemens calls its systems SieStorage, using lithium-ion batteries that ship in storage containers. GE Energy is working on similar systems.

Last week's Energy Storage Association meeting in Santa Clara featured two smaller companies -- S&C Electric of Chicago and AES Energy Storage, whose parent owns utilities in the Midwest, as lead sponsors.

Instead of theoretical discussions, Eric Wesoff of The Energy Collective writes, the focus instead was on lessons learned from pilot programs, integration with solar and wind power, the need for big data analytics, and for standards. They were practical questions, which he called "a noticeable step forward."

Speaking in Atlanta recently, the Department of Energy's point man on this, Imre Gyuk, said power outages cost the U.S. economy $79 billion a year, in an energy market worth $250 billion. He said the market needs 200 kilowatts of storage for each megawatt of power. Certainly that's worth $10 billion.

At the time of publication, the author was long AAPL.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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