The prospect of storage is increasingly attractive in the No. 1 solar state in the nation because of wildfires.
California utility PG&E began instituting Public Safety Power Shutoffs in 2019 to minimize risk from wildfires, leaving hundreds of thousands of residents without power for days at a time.
Solar + storage installer Sunrun told KQED the company saw 15-times more web traffic to its battery pages than usual during the outages. Sunrun also published a white paper in early 2019 describing the role of solar + storage in mitigating wildfire threats in California and beyond.
“Today’s aging energy infrastructure is ill-equipped to deal with the impacts and risks of a changing climate. We need modern, bold solutions to transform the way that our electricity system works — providing power where people live and work. That means empowering people to develop local clean energy, including home solar and batteries as we transition to 100% clean energy for all,” said Anne Hoskins, CPO at Sunrun, in a press release.
Tesla aimed to reach that audience as well by reducing solar and Powerwall prices for those affected by wildfire power outages by $1,000.
On the other coast, nonprofit Solar One launched a solar + storage program for vulnerable New York City communities with funding from the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR). The first projects will be installed on a family services building, two volunteer ambulance corps locations and a school.
“When Superstorm Sandy knocked out our power, we had no way of servicing our students and community for about a week. We are so thankful to the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery for providing us with the solar power and energy storage that is necessary to avoid a similar circumstance in the future,” said Villa Maria Academy principal Sr. Teresa Barton in a press release.
SEIA wants to see that same energy storage interest grow across the country in the next 10 years.
The group has proclaimed 2020 to 2030 to be the Solar+ Decade and set a goal for solar to comprise 20% of all U.S. electricity generation by 2030 instead of its current 2.7% share. The group plans to accomplish this ambitious goal through “aggressive collaboration” with stakeholders in wind, storage and other industries.
Policy will play an important role in solar + storage growth too. The House of Representatives released a comprehensive clean energy package at the end of 2019 that includes a five-year extension of the 30% solar investment tax credit (ITC) and new incentives for energy storage.
While the industry works to fully incorporate storage, solar continues to reach milestones on its own. According to Wood Mackenzie’s “2019 U.S. Solar Market Insight Report Q3,” the utility solar pipeline hit a record of 37.9 GW in September 2019. Utilities like LADWP and companies like Microsoft contributed to this achievement with huge procurements, like LADWP’s 450-MW Springbok Solar Cluster.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) found that solar, including small-scale PV systems, grew 13.7% in 2019 compared to the first eight months of 2018. Small-scale solar provided nearly one third of total solar generation and distributed solar as a whole grew more than any other energy source.
Residential solar grew 3% quarter-over-quarter and 8% year-over-year in 2019 as it continued its rebound from 2018. Residential storage had a milestone year, hitting its biggest quarter ever in Q2 with 35 MW of installations.
Solar combined with storage has a crucial role to play in the next decade as climate change effects worsen and energy independence becomes more and more necessary for homeowners and business owners.