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Solar-Plus-Storage: Another Big Year Ahead for Energy Storage

Solar-Plus-Storage: Another Big Year Ahead for Energy Storage

Solar-plus-storage, or the pairing of solar panels with batteries to store excess energy for future use, was a big topic in 2018. Many industry analysts predicted that the energy storage market in the United States would triple, and despite a few obstacles, it was a record-breaking year for new solar-plus-storage deployments. This trend is expected to continue in 2019 and beyond as energy storage becomes a vital component of consumer and utility solar installations.

There are now 5 states with publicized energy storage targets. Their efforts, along with growing adoption of solar-plus-storage systems by utility companies, will continue to highlight the security and stability benefits of energy storage. Let’s take a look at what the year ahead may hold for the solar-plus-storage market.

Prices Decline as Technology Advances

For consumers who are interested in achieving greater energy independence and security, there has never been a better time to invest in energy storage. Prices continue to decline as storage technology advances, and major battery suppliers such as Tesla and SunRun are creating more efficient and effective products. As Energy Storage News notes, “from residential to commercial to utility-scale, vendors and developers are ‘pitching pre-designed solar-plus-storage [solutions] with increasingly competitive prices compared to standalone solar.’”

Why should solar adopters embrace solar-plus-storage? Consumers seeking to cut the cord from utility companies, use more of their own energy, or even sell stored energy back onto the grid find that today’s battery systems add tremendous value to their solar installations. In addition, stored solar energy can allow residential and commercial energy producers to avoid peak demand charges and greatly increase their energy savings.

Utilities Come On Board

The cost of producing and storing solar energy dropped low enough in 2018 to compete favorably with natural gas-generated power, awakening utility companies to the fact that alternative energy sources can be good business for them, too. CleanTechnica reveals that “energy storage is now becoming more integrated into resource plans,” at the utility level.

UtilityDive forecasts that “as more utilities incorporate storage into their systems, it will change the way utilities think about how much intermittent renewable resources their systems can integrate, particularly in regions that are expecting substantial amounts of retirements of older resources, such as coal and nuclear power plants.” The buy-in of utility companies will have a major effect on the energy storage market, enabling even more rapid growth and innovation and resulting in even better technology and lower prices for all solar-plus-storage consumers.

A Powerful Case Study

One great example of the potential impacts of solar-plus-storage adoption is underway in Kaua’i, Hawaii. PV Magazine writes “those who cast doubt on the ability of renewable energy to supply the demands of our civilization” like to say that “the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow all the time.” But, “As it turns out, they don’t have to. Because with batteries, photovoltaics can supply electricity after sundown. And this is not theory; it is being done.”

The proof? The world’s largest solar-plus-storage “peaker” - which means that “it will meet peak demand typically served by the use of natural gas-fired power plants.” The Lāwa’i Solar and Energy Storage plant will provide for 11% of the island’s energy needs, replacing 3.7 million gallons of diesel fuel each year and bringing Kaua’i’s total solar contribution to 34%. In addition, it is capable of “black-starting” the island’s grid in the event of a system outage or natural disaster. How much does it cost? Just 11 cents per kilowatt-hour.

This example is proof that solar-plus-storage installations will continue to make a major impact, from consumers to utility companies and back, by providing more efficient, more reliable, and less expensive power.

At Solar Design Studio, we’re always happy to help clients include battery storage in their solar plans. If solar-plus-storage is part of your plan for 2019, contact us today!

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Bob Solger is Mr. Solar to the Kansas City region. With a passion to forge change and be green well before it was cool to do so, Bob has led the regional market as an engineer and spokesperson for the adoption of solar energy. He completes his projects professionally and continues to inspire by teaching others how to get the most from solar installations.

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