Jason RothmanJune 11, 20187831
Residential energy storage grew 900 percent in the first quarter of 2018 over the amount of storage installed in 2017.
Until recently most solar installers didn’t offer batteries to most homeowners connected to the grid. They mainly offered it to homeowners who were in rural areas and didn’t have access to the power grid, or to customers who specifically asked for it. The grid acts as the battery in most cases and installers would explain this to potential customers.
You generate power in the day, you feed the grid your excess power, and then you get that power back at night.
But now as the popularity of solar soars, some utilities are starting to change their net metering policies. These utilities charge you a retail rate for the power you use and then buy back power at a wholesale rate. This change and the fact that batteries themselves have decreased in price has led to a huge increase of batteries and storage as part of a residential solar system.
The market is heading in this direction and solar installers are taking notice and offering batteries as part of a solar system. Many people are also asking for batteries because they believe storage can compliment residential solar. The market is responding to this need.
For the first time, residential deployments of batteries beat commercial deployments, according to GTM Research and the Energy Storage Association. In the first quarter of this year, solar installers added 15.9 megawatts of battery storage. Commercial installations used to be the where majority of storage installations took place, and this trend flipped for the first time in 2017. Only 11.7 megawatts of commercial storage was installed versus nearly 16 megawatts of residential storage.
The change is unprecedented. According to GTM Research, when they began tracking storage installations, residential batteries were a blip on the radar. Now that blip has grown into a bigger chunk of the market than commercial installations. There were,’t as many commercial installations in the first quarter of 2018, but 15.9 megawatts of storage deployed one battery at a time is still significant.
This trend is showing no sign of slowing down and maybe that’s a good thing because storage can alleviate a problem we often have in California and in other states with a strong solar presence. It’s also a problem that is growing all over the country.
As more households have solar power, the power needed in the middle of the day from the grid is reduced to nighttime levels.
Then as the sun goes down and the solar panels go dormant, the amount of power needed from grid-tied fossil fuel and nuclear power plants goes through the roof until about 9 pm when it backs off again. This huge swing of power grid resembles a duck and has been nicknamed the duck curve.
Because of this evening power surge, these large power plants have to be running at full capacity just to be ready for the evening crush. You can’t just shut those things down and then turn them on around 4 pm to start dealing with the evening power needs.
Having these power plants on means that sometimes we have to sell and export our industrial-scale solar power to other states while we use the power from the fossil fuel plants to power our homes.
Batteries are going to help ease that power increase because they will be able to power the home for the few hours between when the sun is low in the sky and when people go to bed for the night.
I think this shift is happening, and I think that overall it will help that evening crush, and maybe we will be able to get rid of these old power plants once and for all.
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