What About Better Batteries for Solar Power?

The current electricity grid as we know it works by pulling from different power sources. Since large amounts of electricity are hard to store, it just continues to pull electricity.

But what if we looked at power as something that doesn’t come from a giant electric grid? What if it just came from rooftop solar panels instead?

Well, of course, you think. That’s what I have! Or what my neighbor has! Or what I hope to have someday!

But what if we could store electricity in our homes? Why are we still waiting on better battery technology for solar?

Can Rooftop Panels Replace Utility?

Utility companies need completely different things out of energy than a normal homeowner. They need space — and plenty of it — in order to capture that much energy to power homes and businesses. However, smaller electricity storage is something that’s actually feasible.

According to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), the trend of small storage systems is growing quickly. GTM Research says it expects home battery storage to become “a $1 billion industry by 2018.” And Solar City offers battery storage for home use right now. It says it’s “a cost-effective, wall-mounted storage appliance that is small, powerful and covered by a long lasting full 10 year warranty.”

What Would It Take to Store Solar at Home?

So let’s say you’ve installed rooftop solar panels in your home. You’re using battery storage to keep that energy. Why hasn’t this caught on sooner?

Part of it is because there’s still a need for utility-scale energy, whether solar or otherwise. Industrial users need the traditional grid system because it will just produce so much more than a home or business will.

But what about storage?

In a report from Navigant Research, advanced batteries for utility-scale energy storage application is predicted to grow from over 400 megawatt (mW) hours last year to over 51,00 mW hours in 2023. That’s an annual growth rate of 71 percent!

If renewable energy wants to fully take over traditional energy sources, it needs to happen on a massive scale so homes and businesses without rooftop solar can gain easy access to solar energy as well.

However, if renewable energy really wants to succeed, it means necessary innovations in battery storage. From lithium ion batteries to flow batteries and advanced lead-acid batteries, more needs to be done to tackle this technology so that solar energy can be stored in greater quantities.

What do you think about the future of battery technology and its relation to solar energy? Tell us in the comments!


Image Credit: Skitterphoto via pixabay

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