Solar + Storage. That's what we're talking about.

by Anna Gretz
June 20, 2017
Home Battery

We’ve been saying it all along: solar goes better with storage. Solar power is a clean, free, logical place to turn when looking for an awesome energy source, but it does have its weakness: intermittency. As hard as we try to convince it otherwise, the sun always goes down. Always. This leaves solar users powerless and in the dark about half the time. But it doesn’t have to. With solar + storage, like home batteries, solar users can store the power generated by their solar panels during the day, so they can use it whenever they need it, even after the sun goes down.

It’s like we said: solar is awesome. But solar + storage? That’s even better. And now, it’s looking like today’s top solar developers agree.

Welcome to Hawaii, Where Solar and Storage Hold Hands

Hawaii’s been ahead of the solar game for years, especially because of the abundance of sun, and the lack of easily accessible coal and natural gas. The Pacific Islanders used to haul in barrels of diesel fuel for generators, but lately, the daytime hour energy demand has been met by solar power instead. When night time falls, you can still hear the hum of some generators kicking in… but many solar-dependent homes and businesses have been turning to energy storage instead.

With such high solar penetration in Hawaii, solar energy storage can come in handy during some daytime hours as well. When an area reaches the level of solar dependency that the island of Kauai has, even temporary cloud-cover can cause a problem. Instead of experiencing major grid strain and possible power outages, passing clouds can trigger a boost of energy from batteries, which hold generated energy for that specific purpose. Thank you, energy storage, for seamlessly averting that electricity crisis.

Because Hawaiians have already literally “seen the light” when it comes to the dynamic duo of solar power and batteries, companies like Tesla have been stepping onto the scene to capitalize on the opportunity to start some major energy storage projects to usher the islands into a new era of diesel generator-less energy.

Tesla is just one of the companies that has realized that if you’re developing solar, it makes sense to ramp up the battery production alongside it. Tesla, however, true to form, went about this unconventionally, starting with battery development for electric vehicles and moving towards a more holistic energy lifestyle, complete with a solar roof and residential energy storage. Tesla realized that their clientele were looking for the complete package when it came to energy efficiency and security. And they’re not the only one.

Companies Are Backing Solar with Storage

Solar developers, especially the big names, are seeing that solar is sexier with storage. Energy storage ups the appeal of solar because it gives everyone more flexibility over their energy usage, from households all the way on up to utility-scale plants. In fact, batteries may be becoming one of solar’s biggest selling points, especially for those who aren’t around during the day to use up all their generated power.

Here are just a few companies that have moved from simply solar to a solar + storage, and why they have decided to make the logical leap:

SunPower: Way back in 2014, SunPower started to see the connection between the top-notch solar panels they were marketing, and the energy storage being developed by companies like Sunverge. That’s why they formed a residential partnership, soon to blossom into a commercial-scale option adopted by customers like Target and Macy’s. SunPower’s advocation of energy storage has made it a great choice for Swell’s own EnergyShield program as well (more on that later.)

First Solar: “As the promise of storage continues to evolve, we are eager to understand how it will broaden our own power plan offerings.” That’s a quote by First Solar CTO Raffi Garabedian, who invested in the German Startup Younicos in 2015 to show the company’s commitment to energy storage. First Solar still stands as the top solar developer in the United States, and a specialist in the thin-film solar category. Now, they have a PV-plus-storage development office, since so many of their solar customers are asking about storage. “It’s really become cost-effective in roughly the last year for dispatchable PV,” said department head Scott Rackey. Their interest and investment in solar + storage is set to accelerate in the months to come.

NextEra Energy: Here’s a company that is tearing up both the renewable power generation and energy storage scene. NextEra Energy Resources currently ranks second in actively deployed and under-contract storage installations, with 76.4 megawatts of operational energy storage. They also have a record-setting solar + storage project in the works with Tucson Electric Power for an additional 100 megawatts of solar with an accompanied storage system. Michael O’Sullivan, Senior Vice President of Development at NextEra Energy, gives energy storage credit for the company’s recent thriving. According to O’Sullivan, people want to be where the storage is (being developed), and potential staffers have been knocking on the doors of the energy storage department, looking to be part of the next big energy development.

Solar + Storage Makes Sense Across the Spectrum… ...But we’re taking a good look at residential energy.

Even though it’s pretty easy to make an argument for coupling solar panels with energy storage, the investment can seem pretty out of reach for some residential customers. Until now. Swell set out to put energy storage within reach for almost everyone by developing a new bundled product that offers solar + storage for just $1 a day. We call is EnergyShield, and we’re pretty proud of it.

EnergyShield is a way that every household can protect themselves from blackouts, the rising cost of electricity, and even make off-grid independence affordable for so many more Americans. Swell re-structured the traditional solar + storage system, sizing it to fit a majority of homes, while still taking advantage of the federal incentives available for energy storage customers. EnergyShield is a combination of sleek, black solar panels and state-of-the-art home batteries that comes in three tiers, depending on the level of energy security and freedom you are looking for.

If solar + storage makes sense, it makes sense for everyone. That’s why it should be available to everyone. If you’re wondering whether or not a solar + storage system is within your reach, click here for a free EnergyShield quote from Swell.