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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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What Our Clients Are Saying

I have researched adding PV to my home for several years and have met with several PV providers in the KC area and they tend to fall into two broad categories, the new and low budget operators who got into this to ride the wave and are not that knowledgeable, and the commercial providers who have little interest in working with a homeowner and are geared to providing a much larger system where some economy of scale must come into play. Both my wife and I are architects and we wanted something different and it was challenging to find someone who was interested in doing something out of the ordinary. Neither or those types were interested in working with us as we were trying to create something a bit different. they each wanted to sell us their pre-configured solutions.

 

Fortunately we found Bob Solger. He has been a delight to work with and is incredibly knowledgeable and responsive. We wanted to create a solar carport that would provide cover and protection for our cars, but would also provide shade over part of our patio. In essence, the big idea was to create an outdoor pavilion, when, if we wanted to entertain we could move the cars out of the way and have a large covered area for an outdoor gathering. We had selected the Lumos brand of solar panels as they have a very clean look and are partially transparent so some light filters through the panels creating a mottled light pattern on the ground, similar to the shading from a tree. In addition, the system is set up to hide the majority of the connecting wires in the support beams so when you look up at the underside of the PV roof you see a very clean look. Bob recognized our goal and worked with us to ensure the project’s success. Bob identified a structural engineer to design an elegant support structure and found a fabricator to build it affordably. Finally he connected us with a contracting team to clear the space, provide the footings, retaining walls, and pad, who were every bit as careful with everything as you would hope. They were amazingly accommodating to every request and understood that there were a lot of competing challenges that needed to be resolved so we could fit this all in to a very tight location and make it look like it belongs.

 

The bottom line is that it all turned out better than we could have hoped and while it did cost more than the low ball bids received from some of the low budget operators, it was less than the commercially focused suppliers, and more importantly we got the design we wanted and a well-constructed PV carport that will give us great delight for years to come. The best part is of course the savings on our electric bill, which thus far has been averaging around $200/month. So not only do we have a new carport and entertainment patio that our neighbors have been stopping by and admiring (which given that we live in the older Brookside neighborhood and our PV carport is quite modern, we were much relieved) but, our electric bills have been in the under $10/month range.

 

We owe a great debt of gratitude to Bob and his knowledge and team for helping to create an amazing PV carport for us. I’m sure you would be delighted with whatever you engage him to help you with.

Dev & Sue Malik

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