Solar is brilliant, everyone knows that. Fitting panels on rooftops of houses is now moving from being a super cool, yet rare scene, to something very common and more affordable. But a huge limitation still remains, preventing solar to reach incredible heights- that of energy storage.
Regardless of how efficient the solar panels are and how strong the sun is, the reality is that in many places around the world, fossil fuels are still used to provide power during nighttime. Now, while the others are still struggling to find solutions, the officials of the state of California are no longer wasting time.
A decision to completely remove all interconnection fees was made, which not only adds extra to the budget for energy storage, but also opens up numerous possibilities for improvements in the field.
The whole issue was initiated by the utility companies. They pleaded for a review on energy storage systems, and metering, with the argument that these interfere with the management of the grid. What they did not realize is that all this could backfire, and of course it did, thanks to the regulators, who finally seem to have grasped the importance of renewables, and more precisely solar.
Usually, when such changes are made, the once who benefit the most are the big manufacturers only. The difference this time is that the elimination of the fee will benefit the residential sector, of course as well as the commercial sector and big companies, but still. Under the new regulations, any system, which is under 10kW will have to be equipped with a meter that will measure the interchange between solar generation and battery charging, but the cost is limited to $600. I guess this means that regardless of how much energy you store, everything over this amount will be free.
Now, let’s see which are the companies that are likely to get the biggest pieces of the tasty pie. I guess, none of them would come as a surprise to you, but still, it is worth mentioning. First of is SolarCity, the company that had the loudest tone against the fees. The main reason for this was that they have been trying to push forward energy storage systems for years, and now they can finally do it with cash to spare.
This leads us to the second beneficent, Tesla Motors. These guys have been on the news every day for the past year, at least. First the release of Tesla Model S, then the announcement of the Gigafactory with their battery partner- SolarCity. Apparently, Tesla Motors are planning to devote 35 gigawatt-hours of the plants capacity to automotive, and the remaining up to 50 gigawatt-hours will go to energy storage.
And now, last but not least, SunPower. These guys are also testing new energy storage technologies, and they are determined to become one of the biggest competitors to Tesla on manufacturing batteries. The difference here is that they do not need partners to make the devices, they will do it themselves.
All in all, great news for California and for the major solar players. Let’s see how soon it is before our minds are blown away by the next super incredible energy storage technology.
Image (c) SolarCity