Battery storage systems have 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 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.