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Battery Storage Expands Renewable Energy Movement

May 08, 2015

Battery storage will offer consumers a sustainable alternative to grid power.

At a recent panel discussion I moderated focusing on renewable energy technologies; one of the topics that we spent some time discussing was the ability to store renewable energy for future consumption and the current technologies available to do this.

The U.S. Department of Energy is investigating ways in which energy can be stored in order to increase the use of wind and solar power. Storing energy is becoming necessary on days when renewable energy does not produce enough power, such as when the sun isn’t bright enough or the wind isn’t blowing hard enough to fuel the power grid. Energy experts have discovered amazing power in “super” batteries that are strong enough to power entire homes and businesses. As solar energy usage continues to grow, researchers expect battery storage to increase along with it.

Restructuring the Power Grid

Storing energy from solar panels may be old news, but there have never been batteries strong enough to power entire buildings. Since the sun generates enough solar power on the surface of the earth each hour to meet the world’s total yearly energy usage, there is plenty of energy to store. Homes and businesses powered by solar panels can use home batteries to harvest and store energy during the day that can be used for power at night. These batteries can also be used as an alternative to generators for backup power during an outage.

Tesla Motors unveiled their new product line April 30th that includes the “Powerwall,” a $3,500 battery pack that can store up to 10 kilowatt hours of energy, enough power to run a household for several hours. Plans are underway at Tesla to reveal their business based battery storage unit, the $25,000 “Powerpack,” able to hold 100 kilowatts hours of energy.

Tesla’s efforts are the beginning of a transformation in home power storage, especially since many consumers are looking for ways to get off the grid. Tesla’s ultimate plan is to build regional networks of home batteries that could be controlled in the same way as a power plant. This would give electric, gas, and water companies a way to guarantee that they can provide power when demand is high. Tesla is expected to begin producing batteries in 2017.

The Future of Battery Storage

As of right now, battery storage is not widely utilized due to storage capacity constraints and its current price point. You can expect to see use of battery power increase as the technology continues to develop and as the power grid becomes more unstable. As grid prices continue to escalate, the return on investment for renewable investments increases. As renewable technologies become more widely adopted, homeowners will be able to justify further investments in home generated power instead of the expensive grid power.

Stay tuned for more updates on the potential tax advantages and financial incentives for using renewable energy. Questions? Contact us.

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