Improving Solar Energy Storage Capacity 

Improving solar energy storage capacity is a critical need for the US both now and in the future.  In a Forbes magazine article published April 1, 2016, author Greg Satell creates a case for Why Energy Storage May be the Most Important Technology in the World Right Now.  He maintains that “just as electric light became competitive with gas light more than a century ago, renewable energy and electric cars are becoming competitive with technologies based on fossil fuels. However, for the new technologies to become truly transformative, we need to develop a new generation of batteries to power them.”

The efficient storage of solar energy for use by property owners and utility companies remains a key issue as we make the transition from fossil fuels to more sustainable sources.  Improving solar energy storage capacity and distribution systems are critical to making solar energy accessible 24/7, including those times when a solar installation is not being irradiated.   When the sun is not shining, you still need access to energy to power your home or business.  And if you generate enough power to send some of it back to the utility company, a process called net metering, that power company must have the capacity to store that energy until it is needed to meet demands.

Almost all solar energy systems work with the existing utility infrastructure through a net metering system. Net metering allows customers to get credit for the energy their system generates that they don’t use right away. With a net metered system, the user will always have power as they will pull electricity from the grid when their system isn’t producing enough energy to meet their demand, and in times of excess production that power will flow out into the grid and cause their utility meter to spin backwards.

Improving solar energy storage capacity and distribution systems were just two of the many issues that faced policy makers in New York following the devastation resulting from Hurricane Sandy in 2012.  The solar arrays on New York City rooftops at the time of the storm sustained little damage, but since they weren’t connected to battery storage systems, they did little to alleviate the outages that left parts of the city without power for days.  The existing energy infrastructure in our state – as well as elsewhere – lacked what is referred to in the research as “energy resilience.”

What is Energy Resilience?

What does that mean, exactly?  In 2008, former Intel Corporation Chairman and CEO Andrew Grove described energy resilience as the ability to adjust to interruptions in the supply of energy.  In order to achieve a more resilient state, important to our national security both economically and environmentally, he recommended that the U.S. make greater use of electricity because it can be produced from a variety of sources.  Having a diverse energy supply would mean that the US would be less vulnerable to disruptions in supply, less likely to be held hostage to fluctuations in the market or world events.  Another important consideration, Grove maintained, was developing energy resources that were local rather than ones that needed to be imported from overseas while moving away from dependency on fossil fuels towards more sustainable energy resources like wind and solar.

New York’s Resilient Solar Project

So, after Hurricane Sandy, the state of New York took the initiative.  Improving solar energy storage capacity and distribution systems became the focus of a new partnership with the City University of New York.  CUNY won Federal and State support for its Resilient Solar Project in 2014.  The Sustainable CUNY Smart DG Hub – Resilient Solar Project is a 3-year initiative to develop a pathway for greater deployment of resilient solar  energy in New York state. To encourage retrofitting of existing systems and to ensure that a higher percentage of future solar deployments are resilient, battery storage technology needed support for in order to be integrated into the mainstream. The Smart DG Hub – Resilient Solar Project provides that support by working with agencies like the Department of Buildings and the Fire Department to address the challenges of integrating new solar and wind technology into existing codes and regulations.   CUNY won additional State support for Reducing Distributed Energy Storage Soft Costs in 2017.

The Smart DG Hub project has a collection of industry and academic experts on its advisory board including people from General Electric, SunPower, First Solar, Princeton Power and SMA (Scientific Manufacturers Association). In addition to providing power during outages, the newly-developed system will also assess how solar and storage can help shave peak demand on the grid during intense periods of heat and cold.  The Smart DG Hub published the NYC Resilient Solar Roadmap in March of 2017 outlining both its progress to date as well as next steps for the future.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement that the hub “is another big step toward a more sustainable, more resilient New York, supporting clean energy that can be used when we need it most.”  De Blasio continued,  “CUNY’s role is key as New York City sets the pace with our sweeping green buildings plan and commitment to an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and we look forward to continuing to work with partners like the U.S. Department of Energy and the State.”  Clearly, improving our solar energy storage capacity and distribution systems in the state of New York remains a high priority for business, government and citizens alike.

If you would like more information about New York’s various energy initiatives or about the viability of installing a solar energy system on your home or business, contact Venture Home Solar, a local solar expert.  Call us today at  800-203-4158 to find out more about investing in solar energy!  We are the local experts who know the “ins and outs” of our state policies here in New York, including the tax incentives and rebates that can make a solar installation on your home or business even more cost effective.