In recent years, solar has seen an unprecedented rise in installations, both on a large and small scale. Energy storage, however, hasn’t quite kept pace. Though home batteries present significant advantages to households with solar panels, many consumers spring for the panels, seeing the economic and environmental benefit, but choose not to install a home battery to store the unused solar energy they generate.
In a world that is driven by value propositions, energy storage, at this point in the game, is tough to justify. But what if we stopped asking about payoff time, and considered the importance of the other benefits energy storage provides? It’s time to take another, different look at the value of energy storage, one that is motivated not primarily by economics, but by security and independence.
Selling Solar, but Not Storage
A big part of selling solar panels to consumers is laying out the economic benefits, of which there are many. Solar customers enjoy discounted energy bills, and in many places, can sell their excess energy back to the grid for additional savings. With the falling cost of photovoltaics, solar is paying for itself more and more quickly as time goes on. This change makes it increasingly easy for salespeople to get buyers excited about solar… but not storage.
Throwing residential energy storage, like home batteries, into a solar sale adds considerable cost, and there’s no more promise of a quick payback time. For this reason, many solar marketers understandably downplay the value of solar, worried that it might make deals more difficult to close. When coming at things from a purely economic angle, this is true. If people are looking to go solar to save money, addition of an expensive battery to the cost may turn some buyers away.
But economics isn’t the only reason buyers invest in solar, and it’s not the only way to sell storage. By knowing and presenting the advantages of energy storage well, companies can tap into a whole new market of buyers. It’s time to unlock the value proposition of energy storage.
Security Over Savings
Customers who want to invest in residential energy storage do so because of two main values: energy security and independence. Let’s unpack each one:
The centralized power grid, as it stands, has proven itself time and time again to be vulnerable, and unreliable. This vulnerability isn’t just because of the weather. Take, for example, the current plight of southern California: Due to a leak in a natural gas storage facility, the region is looking at rolling blackouts this summer. It’s events like these that push many consumers toward one of nature’s most reliable, albeit intermittent, energy sources: the sun.
It’s the intermittence that has many security-searching customers going all-in for home batteries. Since batteries store surplus solar generated by photovoltaics during the day, home battery owners can theoretically enjoy seamless, reliable backup power from the sun in the case that sun, or the grid, goes down.
Unreliability isn’t the only reason consumers are looking to break free from the power grid. A major draw to off-grid living is independence. There is an entire movement and culture forming around the concept of both urban and suburban homesteading and the freedom and liberation that comes with it. Independence from the centralized power grid translates into freedom from not only unpredictable outages, but possible rate increases and additional fees. Rational or not, “breaking free” and going “off-grid” draws a big crowd looking to disconnect from systems and institutions. Energy storage feeds into this desire for constant control and power, both figuratively and literally.
Solar Saves Money. Storage Adds Security
Energy security and independence are enough to compose a viable value proposition for home batteries. When considering whether or not the advantages of home batteries are worthwhile, stop asking about monthly savings and payback times. Though the economic benefit emerges with more clarity in the case of solar panels, the security and independence given by energy storage is enough to merit the investment for many consumers.
Image credit: sonnen.