We’re witnessing the transformation of electricity generation, storage and usage of electricity in buildings. The “home of the future” will have an appliance that combines an inverter, rooftop solar, battery storage and an EV charger — linked together with easy-to-use management software.
In August, Tesla implied they are developing such a product. But other companies have been working on similar complete systems — as well as individual components — for years. SolarEdge, Enphase and others for inverters; dozens of solar module manufacturers; multinationals such as GE, Siemens and Schneider for chargers and home electronics; and thousands of software entrepreneurs who hope to create an “app for that.”
These developments are being driven by new technology in solar, battery storage and power electronics. From a consumer’s “demand” perspective, it is becoming increasingly cost-effective to generate and store one’s own electricity. And from a utility’s “supply” perspective, the realization is dawning that they cannot maintain their “we generate it so you must buy it” business model.
The challenge is to build a profitable business around this future building energy reality. Can one company dominate the commodity manufacturing of solar panels and batteries to create a complete “home energy appliance” product offering? Or will multiple companies collaborate as they provide pieces of this appliance, integrated by one or more suppliers of electronics and software? For more about the Next Big Energy Appliance, please Listen Up to the 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