As Solar Installations Soar, Battery Systems Gain Popularity

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by Chris May, Sales Director, East Coast, Russell Pacific

 

Demand for battery backup systems and generators spikes after utility grid outages.  I’ve personally witnessed multiple surges in demand for backup systems having worked for solar contractors and distributors since 2007.  Hurricane Maria was devastating last year with thousands of lives lost and some still without power today.  The June 2012 derecho ripped through a dozen states knocking out power to millions of homes and businesses.

The latest generation of commercially available batteries, including the LG Chem RESU10H, can be used for self-consumption as well as for backup.  A self-consumption battery essentially stores kilowatt-hours generated by a solar array to be consumed at a different time.  If your utility doesn’t allow net-metering, store the extra kWh for use at night.  If the utility credits you at a small wholesale generation rate, consuming those kWh at night instead of selling them to the utility at a fraction of their worth may makes sense.  If your utility charges time of use rates where the cost of electricity is much higher during certain times of the day, using your stored kWh during those hours to reduce your peak load demand may be fiscally wise.

There are limitations to this class of battery such as the total usable stored kWh and total power input and output.  If you need to back up larger loads with several days of autonomy, 12V AGM or 2V telecommunications batteries may be a better fit.  Choosing the right battery for the right application is important. A good analogy is using a hammer to drive a nail and a screwdriver to tighten a screw.  Use the right tool for the right application.

Elon Musk famously said last year, “If you wanted to power the entire U.S. with solar panels, it would take a fairly small corner of Nevada or Texas or Utah. You only need about 100 miles by 100 miles of solar panels to power the entire United States.  The batteries you need to store the energy, to make sure you have 24/7 power, is 1 mile by 1 mile. One square mile. That’s it.”

In the US, cumulative installed storage capacity is forecasted to grow to 1,233 MWh this year, up from 431 MWh in 2017.  Global installed capacity is forecasted to reach 14.6 GWh in 2018, up from 11.3 GWh in 2017, and is expected to grow to 81.3 GWh in 2024 according to data provided to Bloomberg New Energy Finance by Krys M. Rootham at Acciona Energy.

There’s a wealth of current articles on storage including ‘Storing power key to expanding use of renewable energy’, ‘EVs Could Save California Billions in Energy Storage Investment,’ ‘Solar Power To Become 4th Largest Electric Power Capacity In The World (Passing Up Wind),’ and, ‘Storage Will Be Energy’s Next Big Thing.’

Russell Pacific is happy to announce that we’re now an authorized LG Chem RESU10H resale partner.  We’re excited to offer the LG battery in conjunction with SolarEdge StorEdge inverters, soon-to-be-released SMA Sunny Storage inverters, SnapNrack racking, and modules from REC Group and Silfab.

Contact a representative for more information.