Battery storage has made enormous strides in terms of cost and efficiency. Unfortunately, our society’s needs keep increasing — both for power (kilowatts for our cars, industries and HVAC) and energy (sustained energy delivery, even at night). Although battery-powered cars have indeed become cost-effective, pop culture’s impractical view of battery storage persists (see this recent SNL clip about the new Mercedes AA series car).
Batteries are an ideal way to store the sun’s daytime-generated energy for use at night. We have the technology. And the costs for batteries, electronics and the necessary software have come down dramatically. But the policies that would make these systems cost-effective are not yet in place in the U.S. Utilities would rather build more generating and transmission capacity than encourage customers to generate with solar and store energy in their own batteries.
The market for commercial battery storage systems is much bigger than the home market, because commercial customers get an economic benefit by avoiding high kw demand charges. Without home electric rates that are favorable to battery storage, there is almost no reason for homeowners to invest in these systems. Yet. Homeowners who need emergency backup power are almost always better off with a generator. But as battery storage costs continue to decline and storage-friendly utility rates become available, there is no doubt that the market for home and business storage systems will grow quickly. For an update on current battery storage options, please Listen Up to this week’s Energy Show on Renewable Energy World.
As energy costs consume more and more of our hard-earned dollars, we as consumers really start to pay attention. But we don’t have to resign ourselves to $5/gallon gas prices, $200/month electric bills and $500 heating bills. There are literally hundreds of products, tricks and techniques that we can use to dramatically reduce these costs — very affordably.
The Energy Show on Renewable Energy World is a weekly 20-minute podcast that provides tips and advice to reduce your home and business energy consumption. Every week we’ll cover topics that will help cut your energy bill, explain new products and technologies in plain English, and cut through the hype so that you can make smart and cost-effective energy choices.
About Your Host
Barry Cinnamon is a long-time advocate of renewable energy and is a widely recognized solar power expert. In 2001 he founded Akeena Solar — which grew to become the largest national residential solar installer by the middle of the last decade with over 10,000 rooftop customers coast to coast. He partnered with Westinghouse to create Westinghouse Solar in 2010, and sold the company in 2012.
His pioneering work on reducing costs of rooftop solar power systems include Andalay, the first solar panel with integrated racking, grounding and wiring; the first UL listed AC solar panel; and the first fully “plug and play” AC solar panel. His current efforts are focused on reducing the soft costs for solar power systems, which cause system prices in the U.S. to be double those of Germany.
Although Barry may be known for his outspoken work in the solar industry, he has hands-on experience with a wide range of energy saving technologies. He’s been doing residential energy audits since the punch card days, developed one of the first ground-source heat pumps in the early ‘80s, and always abides by the Laws of Thermodynamics.
Lead image credit: Patrick Breitenbach | Flickr