Energy Storage: A Creative Solution to the Energy Problem

by Anna Gretz
November 23, 2017
Energy

As humans, we are a creative species… and it’s a good thing we are.

Every generation of Americans has been faced with a new threat to their way of life.

In the 1970s, the oil crisis threatened our gasoline supply, leaving us wondering whether or not we could maintain the freedom of mobility in the future. In the 80s, property crime rates peaked. Homeowners felt unsafe in their homes, and powerless against intruders. In the 1990s, data hackers presented a threat to our new, computer-technology-based lifestyle. Next, after the turn of the century in the year 2000, identity theft threatened our very identity, as well as our credit.

As each threat loomed above us, we rose to meet it. With each new threat, a new industry was born.

In the 70s, Toyota and Volkswagen created an industry of small cars, insuring us that we could make it through the oil crisis with our freedom to travel still intact. In the 80s, companies like ADT stepped in with affordable alarm systems, making sure everyone could feel safe and secure in their homes. When computer viruses and data hackers posed a new threat in the 90s, Symantec came out with the first version of Norton Anti-Virus, giving us the opportunity to safely secure our computers. In 1005, LifeLock was founded to help us protect our credit, and protect our identity.

Each time we are threatened, we have answered with new, innovative industries that protect and secure our way of life.

Today, there is a new threat on the horizon. Our supply of electricity is in danger, and along with it, every device in our technology-centered lives.

Not everyone is aware of the fragility of the power grid, but once you take a look at it, the signs couldn’t be more obvious.

Our grid is aging. 70% of its infrastructure was built before 1980. Along with our bridges and our roads, our electrical grid has been neglected, and not given the maintenance it needs to remain safe and strong. But though the grid itself continues to deteriorate, the demand our society is placing on it is higher than ever. Due to the full infiltration of electronic devices into our society, the need for electricity to run and charge these devices is on the rise. Because of climate change, the need for electricity to control the temperature inside of our homes is on the rise. We are putting an unprecedented amount of strain on the power grid, with no sign of letting up anytime soon. Our grid is overloaded.

Solar is adding to the grid’s instability. Many thought that the rise of solar power would bring with it the answer to many of our energy problems. In many ways, it has. But as far as the grid goes, solar power has actually made the grid more unstable. Without a way to store it, residential and commercial solar power that goes unused is fed back into the grid, giving the power grid the responsibility of maintaining a surplus of energy during the daylight hours, when homes use energy the least.

But it’s not only the age of the grid that makes it vulnerable. Since the electric utilities have moved in the direction of “smart technology,” they have opened themselves up to cyber hacking in a huge way. Government security officials have reported that both cyber criminals, as well as other nations, try to hack into our utility grid on a daily basis, and that the question isn’t if there will be a cyber attack on our electrical grid, but when. Despite the certainty the government feels that this disaster is impending, there is virtually no plan in place to provide relief when this disaster occurs.

And so, we find ourselves facing a new threat. This time, it isn’t our freedom of mobility, home security, our technology, or our identity that we need to protect. This time, we need to protect our power itself.

The road to energy security begins with energy storage. In fact, I predict that American homeowners are going to be turning massively to home energy protection systems, in the form of independent power generation, and energy storage.

First, homeowners need to be able to generate their own power. You can tap into other renewable energy sources (like wind or water, for example) but solar panels are attractive because of their long life and minimal maintenance required. Once installed, solar panels usually last over 25 years, generating electricity directly from sunlight.

Most households install photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of their house, where nothing can block them from the sun. When the sun hits the panel, cells made up of silicon semiconductors collect the energy, creating an electrical direct current. This direct current, when passed through an inverter, is converted into an alternating current, which is what your home uses. Generating electricity from solar panels provides you with a reliable, resilient energy source that isn’t vulnerable in the same way the power grid is. It is, however, intermittent, and in the case of cloudy, or even turbulent, weather like a hurricane, there’s less solar power available. This is where energy storage comes in.

Next, the power generated also needs to be stored. In order to truly have energy security, you need a way to store the electricity your solar panels generate, so you can use it if, and when, the grid goes down. Home batteries do just that. A home battery is like a power reservoir. Water reservoirs continuously provide water to overcome the intermittency of natural water flows. Home batteries ensure continuous power to your home, overcoming the intermittency of natural solar flows. With a home battery, your house can have back-up energy, even when the sun isn’t shining.

Most home batteries on the market today are wall-mounted, indoor or outdoor systems with quiet, unobtrusive operation. Unlike gas-powered generators, they don’t need to be moved into place for operation, or refueled. With solar home batteries, there are no noxious fumes or obnoxious noise. You won’t even notice it’s there… until disaster strikes, and you’re free from the stress of grid failure.

The combination of solar panels and home batteries provide households with the essential resources of resilient power. The combination of solar panels and energy storage provides a simple solution for those who wish to protect their home in the case of a disaster that disables the power grid.

The future of the American electric grid is a decentralized system. The new, secure, reliable power grid will be composed of a network powered by millions of homes, all equipped with their own way to generate and store energy. This sort of distributed grid is possible with the technology that is already available. Whenever we’re ready, we can take advantage of energy security systems like Swell’s EnergyShield, delivering entry-level power protection for as little as a dollar a day.

The threat of the weak power grid is going to become more and more real. Disasters like Hurricane Matthew remind us yet again the potentially life-threatening nightmare of being left without power for a prolonged period of time. Energy security is an invaluable resource in these times of disaster. With every new mass outage, more homeowners are looking to protect their home, and protect their power.

Thanks to the innovation of solar and battery companies, the era of home energy protection is here.