Many people point to solar power as a passing residential green fad, saying it will never take over for the stable, and typically dinosaur-fueled, power grid.
The main problem, at least for opponents of renewable energy, such as solar power and wind power, is intermittency, which we can’t deny. The sun doesn’t always shine, and the wind doesn’t always blow, so energy generation dependent on this intermittent sources aren’t reliable. This doesn’t mean, however, that the task is impossible, that we’ll be tied to fossil fuels forever, or at least until they run out. The key is energy storage, and there are a lot of systems that, in conjunction with smart home construction, could effectively sever our ties to the grid.
The problem with energy storage, of course, is that they add another heavy expense. While residential solar power systems can sometimes be installed for zero money down, I’ve yet to see a zero-money-down backup system. This means that many homeowners will be still need a reliable energy source for when the sun isn’t shining. According to a recent report by Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS), electric vehicles are the key to making the whole system work.
We’ve already discussed how solar power with onsite energy storage could disrupt centralized power generation, and it’s already happening in some areas. The UBS report says that the mass-production will bring the premium for an electric vehicle to just a couple thousand dollars over a hybrid or conventional vehicle in the next ten years. In combination with a residential solar power system, electric vehicles with V2B (vehicle-to-building) capability function as backup energy storage devices, eliminating or at least significantly reducing the need for external energy sources, that is, the power grid’s carbon dioxide-generating fossil fuel plants.
Photo credit: Clownfish