A Solution To Inadequate Solar Policies: Energy Storage Posted on Feb 18, 2017
How should the solar industry navigate political climates uncertain and hostile to supporting its goals? Pivot its focus to energy storage.
As most people in the industry know, the main issues negatively affecting the solar industry over the past several decades have been inconsistent, short-term solar incentives and other policy-mechanisms. The lack of consistent, long-term policies has made it difficult for companies to create long-term forecasting and build out business models. On a state-by-state and local basis, the most important policy mechanisms for solar are how and/or whether solar customers receive credit for their systems’ overall energy output. What makes solar economical is the ability to receive credit during peak solar hours when usage is low. How this is accomplished is by net-energy metering (“NEM”) or tariffs, such as are provided in many states like California.
Unfortunately, fossil fuel companies and utilities are aware that NEM and tariffs make solar financially viable, so they are seeking to hinder and kill these types of policies in many states. While solar companies and trade groups continue fighting against these efforts, a more elegant solution is emerging. Energy storage technologies offer the ability to disengage from this fight all together.
When energy storage technologies are combined with solar systems, the need to depend on NEM or tariffs is removed regardless of whether the system is connected to the grid. Through combining solar systems with battery and demand/supply technology that capture and store the system’s energy, the customer’s need to depend on favorable NEM or tariff policies is obviated. The combined technologies of solar and energy storage allow solar to be financially viable for customers regardless of whether they even live in a location where NEM or tariffs are offered.
The energy storage industry is where the solar industry was ten or more years ago. This means that the small size and lack of sophistication in the industry warrant support at the policy level to help the industry grow. Regardless, it will be just a matter of time before the energy storage industry is a booming industry like solar; and together, the technologies are positioned to take over the energy market.