The State of Solar and Storage Retailers, Buyers, and the Future of Energy 3

by Anna Gretz
May 20, 2017

Part 3. The Future of Energy

Solar has had a huge year. If you’ve been tracking with The Swell, you’ve seen the articles about record growth and unprecedented sales, and know that free power from the sun is on the rise in a big way. We thought it was time to do a highlight post on solar in a more comprehensive way, with an overview on how retailers are doing, what buyers are thinking, and what the future of solar might look like in the coming years. Some of it might surprise you, but all of it is pretty encouraging and hopeful (that part shouldn’t be too surprising.)

This is the State of Solar and Storage:

The Future Edition

Everything is Connected

We have entered a whole new era of smart… everything. Especially when it comes to our energy, and our homes. The latest estimate from Zion Market Research shows the “Smart Home” global market reaching $53.5 billion by 2022. Homeowners are excited about upping the IQ of their homes for a lot of reasons--a lot of their lives are already connected and controlled by their phones, so if they can add the other devices that they use every day to the same dashboard, why not do it? Home connectivity can save money, potentially save lives, and can have a solid positive impact on the environment by saving energy.

Here’s how this works: Smart home technology knows when it’s not needed. Many devices have mechanisms built in to tell them when to drop into low-power mode, or shut down all together, to save electricity when no one is using them. Think of all of the devices we leave on all the time so they’re ready when we need them. You may not be ready to unplug your microwave every time you leave the kitchen, but if your microwave was smart enough to automatically take a nap in between meals? Sounds like an easy, painless way to undo some of the damage we’ve done to the environment.

But no smart home is complete without the ultimate energy package: a way to generate power, and a way to store it. Rooftop solar, coupled with a home battery, is becoming the defining factor of the smart, efficient, connected home. Many home battery models, including Tesla’s Powerwall, have apps available to monitor in-home energy usage, as well as the level of energy stored and generated. This brings energy efficiency to an entirely new level, giving homeowners more information and control over their power than they have ever had before.

Watching this trajectory (okay, geeking over this trajectory) shows us that the future of residential energy usage means connectivity, information, and an easy way to access, monitor, and control the devices within your home, including the mechanisms that generate and store power. But the closer you look at it, the more it becomes clear that phone apps are only the frosting on the cake, and they’re nothing without the cake itself: in-home energy generation.

The Era of DIY Energy

For some, taking control out of the hands of the failing, unreliable power grid is a future that can’t come soon enough. Nationwide, power outages have become six times more frequent than they have in previous decades. Some homeowners have read about the growing vulnerabilities of the power grid, and decided to do something about it. Home batteries offer energy security in the face of a vulnerable power grid. If the grid cuts out for a few hours, home battery owners don’t have to worry. Their home can still be powered by the energy stored by their home battery. For those who depend on electricity to power life-essential medical machinery, or for households that use electricity to heat or cool their homes during extreme weather, this sort of energy security can be a big deal.

Households equipped with solar panels and energy storage in the form of home batteries are protected from any utility company mishap, whether it be on a large or small scale. Home batteries allow households to power their own essential appliances like refrigerators, water pumps, and heating/cooling devices with stored electricity collected from their rooftop solar panels. The grid may be vulnerable, but individual households don’t have to be. In fact, residential energy storage enables a new way of living that retailers and buyers are both latching on to.

High-profile companies, like Tesla, are leading a revolution that centers around a new lifestyle for energy consumers--one that stands for innovation, conviction, and audacity. This is why Tesla has developed a product line that extends beyond electric vehicles. CEO’s Elon Musk has envisioned a future in which there’s a Tesla in every garage, and solar on every roof… not to mention a Powerwall 2 to store generated solar, tying the package together. This is the kind of home, and lifestyle, Elon Musk wants for himself… and he’s confident that he’s not the only one. Musks’ ambition has driven him to push the envelope in almost every respect, from electric cars that you can summon to pick you up at your door, to high-capacity low-cost lithium batteries, to rooftop solar that actually is a rooftop. The lifestyle Tesla offers its customers mirrors Musk’s own innovative drive. Going all-in to the Tesla brand means breaking through traditional methods of using power, and hosting an energy revolution in your own home.

Some of Tesla’s customers are passionate about securing their own energy source. Some are passionate about moving forward into a smarter, more efficient energy future. Some are passionate about the environment. All are convicted that a change to the energy status quo is necessary, and imminent.

The growing popularity of the Tesla brand shows a growing movement of homeowners who are bold and creative in the way they generate and use energy, showing a clear vision that extends beyond economics. The future of energy is one in which consumers, for the first time, take their power into their own hands.

The state of solar, storage, and the future of energy is one that continues to change, grow, and revolutionize as new, exciting technology emerges. We’re excited to see what the future brings, but because solar and energy storage are already here, the present is pretty great, too.