Time was when solar controllers simply switched a battery charger on and off when there was enough sun power for the former and when there was none for the latter. With advanced technologies such as smart grids and big data, a smart energy storage system can also help in peak shifting, in grid management, and may actually help users reduce their electric bills.
The 8.6kWh lithium-ion battery equipped system launched by JuiceBox Energy can be used not only with off-grid solar systems but also for those that are connected to the grid. In areas where time of use determines the rate you pay, the system charges during off-peak hours when rates are low and consumes stored solar energy during peak hours. With the electric demand curves looking more like CAISO’s duck curve with the dip in demand occuring during the midday when the sun is up and demand starting to peak during sundown, this feature could produce hefty savings and increase solar power utilization.
Alternatively, the user has the option to use the system as an Uninterruptible Power Supply for the whole house, or in the future as a component of a demand response program. The latter feature could come in handy in areas in the developing world where there are load shedding programs that offer hefty incentives to users to disconnect from the grid during peak hours.
To sweeten the deal, solar storage systems are eligible for tax incentives under the Federal Residential Energy Tax Credit. This is an acknowledgment that solar panels are just part of the infrastructure needed for effective use of solar power.
With a system like this, and big data now invading electric utility grid management, there are surely some exciting possibilities for the further integration of solar into the power mix.