Curious to learn more about storage for Solar Power World, as well as our newly launched Energy Storage Networks website (which we intend to be a resource for information on the development and deployment of energy storage products, applications and services that will shape future markets), I came into SPI with a healthy appetite for storage knowledge.
SPI’s Energy Storage International section of the show did not disappoint. Intersolar NA also had a dedicated area for storage this year and I anticipate these areas will continue to grow. I definitely saw a huge jump in show focus on storage and interest from solar contractors compared to last year. My advice: storage is coming and it’s coming fast, so explore the options out there for residential, commercial and utility markets now. Talk with manufacturers and compare offerings to get to know what opportunities they see for selling storage that make sense with your customer base.
There’s a market for residential energy storage. While many people think of residential storage in the future, storage manufacturers are already doing business, and I’m not just talking about Tesla. Sonnen said business is busy, even just focusing on more affluent customers, or “preppers” anticipating extreme events in which they will lose power. And with the natural disasters we’ve seen this year, that’s a more realistic concern than ever.
Much of the solar industry started with people with disposable income who established an emotional interest in solar, rather than looking strictly at the economics. The same is happening with storage. Other companies like Mercedes, SolarMax Technology and Trojan Battery are also seeing opportunities for residential storage business in areas like battery-backup and off-grid applications. I even heard a utility in a conference session talking about considering extending the peak demand charges the commercial market knows so well to residential customers. So do your research now and be ready for when this market really takes off. Energy Toolbase has some really nice materials available to use as educational guides for customers looking into storage, so you don’t even have to develop them yourself!
NREL did a report analyzing “solar plus,” an emerging approach to distributed solar that uses energy storage and controllable devices to optimize customer economics. Solar plus has the potential to increase value from the customer’s perspective by combining PV with technologies such as controllable domestic water heaters, controllable air-conditioning units, batteries and electric vehicles. Basically the report says that “solar plus” something else, like storage, improves the customer economics of PV, rather than just having solar. According to the report, solar plus increases the net present value of the customer’s total investment by about a factor of three, on average, across five case studies.
Storage has many value streams that are important to consider when looking at economics. Rocky Mountain Institute reported that customer-sited, behind-the-meter energy storage can provide the largest number of services to the electricity grid—even if storage deployed behind the meter is not always the least-cost option.
Four out of five utilities recently surveyed by SEPA are interested in offering residential energy storage programs. That’s 80%. Meanwhile 89% of utilities are interested in offering storage programs to non-residential customers. P.S. This is a great, free report on the storage market. Check it out.
So start exploring your options for your business to offer storage services now.