Storage Breakthroughs Will Fuel Industry Expansion
Everyone is waiting for the next game-changing industry innovation.
Will it be a new inverter? Could be, though as I look around at the efficiencies of the most popular products, I have a hard time seeing how they could be much more efficient. 1000V are already on the market in Europe, so it’s just a matter of time before they become commonplace the United States. That may revolutionize the industry here, but it won’t revolutionize the way solar power is delivered.
You know what would transform the industry?
Giles Parkison, writing for Australian-based RenewEconomy.au in July 2013, cited a EuPD Research (think of them as a European GTM Research) study on battery storage. It’s complicated, but the study concluded that renewable energy storage, particularly in the solar industry, doesn’t make economic sense yet.
This astonishes me. With all of the advances in batteries for other devices (my MacBook Air has a 12-hour battery now, and electric vehicle batteries are advancing at jackrabbit speed), why is the solar industry struggling so much to take advantage?
As yet, there’s nothing that meets the needs of people like me. I live in Cleveland, Ohio, where we get about three days of sun a year. I won’t be able to install a solar array on my house until I can use power from sunny days to make up for the cloudier times.
It’s not for lack of trying — and the industry is making strides. Companies like U.S. Battery, Trojan Battery, Crown Battery and Rolls Battery are furiously racing toward the goal of making effective battery storage for commercial and residential installations, and I receive announcements three or four times a month. But I believe we can do better.
This is the Holy Grail for the solar industry. If we crack this nut, new markets will open. We need to figure out how to fund the research on a massive scale now — not 10 years from now. Let’s push together for funds from the SunShot Initiative. Let’s crowdsource research. Let’s do more to help the hard-working researchers who are doing pioneering work in this area. They need our help to accelerate their work.
Otherwise, despite the spectacular growth numbers (and they have been spectacular over the past three years), the solar industry will always be selflimiting. That makes no business sense for anyone.
But this isn’t something anyone can do alone. We need everybody’s help to make battery storage a reality. I know we can accomplish anything if we work together — and this is no exception.