Under California’s new energy storage mandates, SDG&E is required to create solar battery storage facilities for a total of 331 megawatts. So far, SDG&E has been granted approval for 5 facilities, which will cover about 83.5 megawatts, while currently a 30-megawatt battery storage center is already in function. The locations for the facilities include Escondido, Poway, San Diego, Fallbrook, and San Juan Capistrano.

 

Why are California policymakers pushing for solar energy storage? Currently, renewable energy faces challenges with intermittency — or consistency due to limited hours of sunlight or a lack of wind. While overall reliable, there is some issue with slumps in power. On the other hands, sometimes there is an overproduction of renewable energy without enough immediate demand to use up the energy created, which has forced California Independent System Operator to face the decision of sending this unused power to other states — or even curtail the production.

 

The solution? Create battery storage facilities to store the power rather than give it away or shut it off. This allows cities to capitalize on more production during peak times and rely on reserves during the lulls in energy production.

 

Ultimately, the goal of battery storage facilities is to help reduce California’s (and other states taking this approach) dependency on natural gas, which still holds a major grip on the state’s electric generation.

Are Battery Facilities the Right Answer?

While policymakers are onboard for battery storage facilities, promoting projects across Southern California, not all people share this viewpoint. Some skeptics believe that current energy storage technologies are too expensive an investment. This mindset doesn’t take into consideration the current challenges of overproduction during peak hours (and loss of that overproduction due to lack of storage or usage), as well as issues with over-demand during lulls in solar production. Though the cost may be several cents higher, the reality is that overtime, prices can be driven down with better technology and efficiency. In addition, there are other benefits to consider when it comes to renewable energy storage.

 

What makes battery storages facilities beneficial:

 

All together, these benefits point to the reason California policymakers are pushing for storage facilities and calling upon utility companies like SDG&E to pick of the mantle in this area of renewable energy.

Energy Storage Technology Helps Fill in the Gaps

While there is still some debate about the cost-benefits of solar battery storage, the reality is that the technology is still new and continually improving. The more the use of solar battery spreads, the more the technology will become more affordable and accessible. That means with more and more residents in San Diego going solar, the state will be able to better capitalize on solar energy production.

Where previously California would have to funnel energy out to other states during excess times, the battery facilities will now allow more of that energy production to be kept in the state and used for dips. The battery facilities will ideally continue to become more affordable over time, becoming a practical way to store up the “harvest” of solar power during the sunniest of days so that homes can draw upon these reserves when needed. Essentially, solar battery facilities help fill the gaps in energy needs and demands so that renewable energy sources can be used more widespread.

Several years ago, Elon Musk steered Tesla Motors into the renewable energy market with an innovative home energy storage product – Tesla Powerwall. This home battery is designed with the same dedication to detail and innovation as Tesla’s cutting-edge electric vehicles and other ventures. While Tesla certainly didn’t invent solar storage batteries, they certainly used their reputation as a leading-edge tech and renewable energy-conscious company to launch their Powerwall into a mostly untapped market. With Tesla’s stamp of approval, new buzz and interest have surrounded the prospect of storing solar energy created by a home’s solar panels.

So what exactly is the Powerwall? According to Tesla, it is a small-scale rechargeable lithium ion battery that provides homeowners with more access to self-sustaining energy for their homes

Understanding Tesla Powerwall

These batteries are designed for optimal use with a solar panel system. How does having the Powerwall installed change the game for homeowners with solar panels? It gives them much more independence from the grid when it comes to energy needs during low production times. Essentially, the Powerwall allows a homeowner to fully control their electricity production and usage by storing home energy for later use.

As would be expected, Tesla spent a significant amount of time and energy developing the Powerwall into a reliable, effective home battery for regular use. The battery works by storing any excess electricity your solar panels produce vs. allowing that electricity to be sent back to the grid (usually for a credit in most states). Even in states with a credit, homeowners are still technically “buying” electricity from the grid when their panels don’t produce electricity at certain times. The battery allows any surplus to be stored and used during these times rather than grid dependency.

While a single Powerwall battery won’t enable you to go completely “off the grid,” it does allow you much more freedom and starts to transition your home towards being much more self-sufficient.

How Long Will Tesla Powerwall Last?

Tesla backs it Powerwall up with a completely unlimited 10-year warranty. This warranty covers daily charging and usage, so essentially as much wear and tear as possible. The warranty also guarantees that a home’s Powerwall will maintain a minimum of 70% of its full charge capacity over this time. It is typical for batteries to lose some of their ability to maintain a charge with usage.

Is Tesla Powerwall Right for Your Home?

Adding a solar battery to a home solar panel system isn’t right for everyone. Further, solar batteries are still pretty new to the market, meaning the technology will continue to improve with time. If you have a utility system that provides net metering for solar panel owners, a solar battery may not be as necessary. In comparison, homeowners in areas that enforce time-of-use rates for electricity would be wise to consider investing in a solar battery to curb their expenses.

Finding out if a solar battery is a good investment for your home starts with talking to a solar expert. Semper Solaris can answer any questions you have about Tesla Powerwall or similar solar energy batteries.

There has been a rising interest in solar battery storage in recent years. While most homes are still tied to power grids, a solar battery would allow homeowners to move closer to being “off the grid” for good. For most, the allure of complete autonomy when it comes to electricity production and usage is very enticing. One of the biggest perks of having a solar panel system is to provide more self-sufficiency, after all, and a solar storage battery is just another step towards independence from utility companies that continue to hike electricity prices.

That is why we are going to take a look at the benefits and pitfalls of both traditional grid-tied solar power systems and solar power systems backed by battery storage.

How Does a Grid-tied Solar Power System Work?

Having a solar power system for your home gives you much more control over your electricity usage. You are able to harness the power of the sun and convert it into usable energy, majorly cutting back on utility expenses. But will solar panels produce enough power for your home? What about those times when the sun doesn’t shine through the clouds or a stormy day hampers energy production? For most homeowners, the solution is being tied to a power grid. For any energy demands they have that their solar production doesn’t cover, they will start pulling from the power grid instead.

Even though homeowners essentially have to “buy” energy during these times, they often have credits to cover the expenses. This means that during evening hours without sunlight, cloudier days, or other circumstances, homeowners can still ensure their electricity needs are covered — and still benefit from previous over-production of electricity needs. In some states, homeowners can even earn money for any additional electricity their panels have produced that they don’t use from the grid. There is also great assurance knowing that there will always be some source of power to pull from should a home’s solar panels not provide the electricity needed.  

As states continue to adopt models for charging solar panel customers, power companies stand to benefit the most from having customers still tied to the grid. This also means that the threat of facing time-of-use rates and other spikes in utility costs is still very real for homeowners with a grid-tied solar power system.

How Does a Battery Storage Solar Power System Work?

In theory, a solar power system that has a solar storage battery could be completely grid-free. That means homeowners have ultimate control over their electricity needs. They don’t have to worry about using credits to cover additional energy demands during low production hours, time-of-use rates, or other challenges that come with a regular grid-tied system.

Battery technology isn’t new, but using batteries for home solar power storage is still not widespread yet. However, the interest in energy storage is growing greatly. As products continue to be developed, the efficiency and storage capacity of these batteries will continue to improve. However, some home electricity demands would still exceed the storage capacity of a solar battery. If you tried to go completely “off the grid,” you could be left without power once you depleted your backup resource until the sun comes back out.  

Why a Hybrid System Is Gaining Popularity

It is clear that both a grid-tied system and battery-backed system boast plenty of perks – and challenges alike. Instead of weighing the pros and cons to the point of pulling out your hair, consider an alternative solution: a hybrid system.

A hybrid solar power system can include the pros of both sides, while essentially eliminating the cons. A home can have the perks of being tied to the grid for any energy needs they have once they’ve used up their solar panel production and battery storage. Homeowners have the ability to draw electricity from both their local power grid, as well as from their home solar batteries. They can choose to invest in more solar batteries for more independence overtime or simply get one for backup purposes.

Having a hybrid system also gives homeowners more flexibility and control. They may choose to reserve their solar power storage for emergency usage only, after the sun goes down, or as backup in case electricity prices surge during certain hours of the day.

Combining a grid-tied system and battery system allows for a consistent and more controlled flow of energy throughout the day and night for homeowners.

When is a hybrid system the most desirable? For homeowners who live in an area without favorable compensation rates for excess electricity produced by solar panels, having a hybrid system can be crucial. Rather than simply sending excess electricity to the grid at a low rate, a homeowner can save some of that valuable electricity for future use, only sending what they don’t use or store.

How California’s Net Metering Policy Has Changed

Homeowners who live in California may be even more inclined to consider a hybrid solar power system. Net Metering 2.0 (NEM 2.0) is an update to California’s original policy on net metering, now including time-of-use rates, non-bypassable charges, and some additional fees. The estimated additional cost will jump up to around $10/month for an average homeowner. The time-of-use rates will be the biggest adjustment for many homeowners, which will adjust the credit given for solar electricity depending on the time of day it was produced. Typically, any excess electricity that is sent back to the grid during higher demand or peak hours will be given more credit. Overall, the policy is still favorable for homeowners, but having a solar battery to store excess electricity can provide more flexibility to bypass lower time-of-use rates and send by electricity during those peak value hours.

Whether you are considering completely disconnecting from your local power grid with solar storage batteries or just want to create the most efficient home solar power system, talk to Semper Solaris about your battery options today.

 

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