At the start of a new year, it’s important to look forward at what’s to come, especially in an innovative industry like solar in which change happens fast. 2017 was a big year for solar-plus-storage technology, with the implementation of solar-plus-storage systems reaching new prominence. This was due in part to a national conversation about energy security spurred by massive storms like those that hit Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, decimating existing power infrastructure and indicating the need for a different approach.
Forward leaps in battery technology also contributed to growing excitement about the possibilities of solar-plus-storage systems for residential, commercial, and even community use. Early trend reports for 2018 indicate the continued strength of these conversations, encouraging today’s solar adopters to include energy storage in their plans. Let’s take a deeper look at the forecast for the solar-plus-storage industry in 2018 and what consumers can look forward to.
Integrated Solar-Plus-Storage Systems Dominate
As Renewable Energy World reports, “Solar plus storage has been popularized not only by its inherent benefits to homeowners, but by the likes of Tesla, which, at the end of 2017, opened its New York showroom for electric vehicles, solar rooftop systems, and batteries.” They predict an ongoing interest in integrated solar-plus-storage systems as consumers seek greater energy independence, flexibility, and security. The rising profile of products such as those created by Tesla contributes to a greater understanding of the benefits of solar-plus-storage as compared to traditional, grid-connected solar systems.
An important factor in the increasing interest in solar-plus-storage systems are utility rates, as companies will most likely continue to raise monthly charges for grid-connected solar systems. This will lead to greater numbers of consumers opting for increased battery storage to maximize self-consumption and avoid shifting peak time-of-use rates. When considering the return on their investment in solar technology, battery storage makes strong financial sense.
Reliability and Energy Security are Top Priorities
Another trend that points to the increasing demand for solar-plus-storage bundles is the conversation around energy security. As more frequent and extreme weather systems continue to affect energy infrastructure, more consumers are motivated by the ability to secure their energy needs by producing and storing their own power.
Greentech Media notes that “The vast majority of power outages are caused by a failure of the local grid, largely due to extreme weather and equipment failures.” Therefore, “Both commercial and residential customers are placing a higher value on backup power capabilities.” This is especially true of industrial solar adopters in manufacturing, healthcare, and even education, as they seek greater energy reliability and security to avoid lost productivity and unavailability.
Competition in the Battery Market Encourages Innovation
Because of growing interest in solar-plus-storage systems, competition among battery producers will be fierce in 2018 and into the future. In the Guardian, ING predicts increased competition in the battery market, noting that Tesla’s Nevada gigafactory is close to completion and will become the largest battery factory in the world. “Not to be outdone,” they write, “China has announced plans that will grant it the capacity to provide almost 120 gigawatt-hours of battery cells a year by 2021. And large-scale battery factories are also planned for Sweden, Hungary, Poland and Germany.”
International competition will drive increased innovation, greater efficiency, and lower prices, benefiting consumers who incorporate battery storage into their solar installations. And while lithium-ion batteries have been a major focus over the last few years, a potential lithium shortage will encourage exploration and development of other methods of battery storage. These could include “pumped-storage hydroelectricity or compressed air energy storage,” and also “water-based batteries, solid state batteries or hydrogen converted by electricity.” For consumers, this means greater choice, better efficiency, and lower prices.
A Bright Future for Solar-Plus-Storage
Early trend reports for 2018 indicate that solar-plus-storage systems show no sign of slowing down and could reach even greater heights in the new year. Renewed focus on energy security and battery innovation will benefit solar adopters who choose to implement solar-plus-storage systems for residential or commercial applications. Another major trend points towards a greater prominence for distributed generation and microgrids, a subject that we’ll address in an upcoming article.
One thing is certain, the solar industry will continue to produce job growth as demand increases, spurred by greater consumer interest in and understanding of alternative energy sources. Through rapid innovation, the ability to provide energy independence and financial savings with integrated solar-plus-storage systems continues to grow, paying dividends for solar investors and adopters alike.
At Solar Design Studio, our commitment to maximizing our customer’s investment in solar energy never changes, and we’re excited to see what opportunities the new year will bring. If you’d like to learn more about the possibilities offered by solar-plus-storage systems for your home or commercial building, contact us today to start the conversation.