10 Predictions for Rooftop Solar and Storage

by Anna Gretz
December 27, 2017
Home Battery

These 10 predictions come straight from the mind of Greentech Media’s Barry Cinnamon. You can read the original article here

It’s getting harder to separate solar from storage.

Barry Cinnamon used this insight to open up his recent article, in which he predicts the imminent future of rooftop solar and energy storage growth in 2018. Cinnamon has a pretty good track record--last year, 8 out of his 10 predictions came pretty close to the mark. Last year, however, Cinnamon focused on rooftop solar alone. He said he couldn’t do that this year, because rooftop solar and energy storage were more often appearing hand in hand.

The integration of rooftop solar with energy storage is sort of a no-brainer. If you’re going to be generating energy from the sun’s rays each day, you might as well keep it around until the evening, when you’re ready to use it. Energy storage, along with rooftop solar, has seen a steep rise in popularity, coinciding with a welcome drop in prices. The integration of the two is set to continue, even intensify, in the coming year… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’re going to present and comment on each of Barry Cinnamon’s predictions for 2018, because we think he’s spot on, and we want to tell you why.

1. United States Solar Cell Manufacturing Won’t Restart Anytime Soon

You may not have been aware of the latest drama in rooftop solar production. Basically, the solar market is changing, and it’s going to take a while for consumers and investors to catch up. In the past few years, the demand for solar went through the roof (if you will), and production ramped up to match. Now, developers are waiting for the revenue to embark on bigger, better projects. This only means that it’s always going to be a great time to purchase solar--now, because the established solar technology is tried and true, and always, because the solar industry has some amazing plans for the next generation of high-efficiency solar cells.

The solar cell industry isn’t going anywhere, it’s just waiting on the next round of investments. In the meantime, developers are dreaming up some incredible new solar applications. Stay tuned for some exciting new developments in solar technology.

2. The Panel Shortage Will Not Mitigate Until the End of Q2

There’s one major thing that’s getting in the way of the distribution of solar panels, and that’s the threat of tariffs. Many solar panels are created overseas, and it takes time and skilled navigation to ship them overseas. The slowing down of solar panel shipping will inevitably cause a temporary decline in sales and revenue for companies producing any part of the solar system.

It’ll require some patience, but the industry will press on. Just like any challenge presented to the solar and storage market, advocates will work to negotiate a better, more efficient, more exciting environment for production and distribution.

3. Wires Will Disappear from Solar System Monitoring

We’re all looking forward to this one. Cinnamon predicts that solar monitoring will be moved to the cloud, yielding a cheaper, and more aesthetically appealing system of solar monitoring. The next year (or two) is sure to bring welcomed technological streamlining to other areas of the solar and storage industry as well. Even though solar systems, especially when paired with energy storage, are already amazing real estate assets, the technology will just continue to get better and better. We can’t wait to see what the future has in store.

4. Dumb Solar Modules on Residential Rooftops are Dead On Arrival

This prediction, though smart and thoughtful, needs some unpacking. First of all, “Dumb Solar” refers to solar panels that “smart” software, or connectible to the network or cloud. The reason that Cinnamon believes that Dumb Solar can’t survive is because of requirements in place in the National Electric Code, or NEC. The NEC requires that in order to improve electrical and fire safety for first responders, you have to be able to shut down the conductors attached to solar panels. Each system needs to have a rapid shutdown function, which is easy to implement when components are cloud-connected, but pretty hard otherwise. You can hook up an add-on rapid shutdown box, but it’s pretty expensive, and it’s probably worth it to just install solar modules with microinverters or optimizers.

5. Utilities Will Thwart Behind-The-Meter Solar

This one is going to be a bit of a battle. Households with behind-the-meter solar, or solar panels that are generating electricity for homeowners on-site, know that they have it good. Rooftop solar that provides electricity for your home, especially when paired with energy storage, puts homeowners in a great situation… and utilities don’t like it. Power companies will likely try to increase charges for solar owners, and move the peak time-of-use rates so they don’t match up with with maximum solar production. This is when battery storage will really come in handy--letting homeowners consume their own generated power, and stop trying to negotiate with the grid.

**6. “Smart Home” Energy Monitoring Systems Will Continue to Fail

Along with the movement of so many household items into the “smart” realm, homes themselves have followed suit, along with the ways they monitor energy. Smart home systems may seem appealing, but will probably not make it big because of pricey installation costs. Smart home systems that come bundled with solar panels or energy storage are a better bet, because they cost considerably less.

7. Energy Storage System Price Declines Will Stagnate

A very important distinction is made here by Cinnamon: though energy storage systems may start to level out on price point, battery prices are likely to continue to fall. The price will stay around the same mark because of the cost of integration. Adding batteries to existing solar systems takes design and permits, software and training, and contractors are going to find that out, and make sure they are compensated appropriately. The fact that battery prices will decline, however, is a good sign.

8. Integrated Packages Will Become More Important

IF residential energy storage systems want to really thrive, they’ll package everything together in a way that is easy for consumers to understand, use, and install. Swell believes this wholeheartely, and is focused on making the process of upgrading your home’s energy storage system the smoothest and easiest it can be. That’s why we created EnergyShield (read more about EnergyShield here.)

9. Backup Power Is Important for Consumers

This is not only a prediction for the future, but an accurate description of the present. Backup power is essential, now more than ever, because our entire lives revolve around electricity. Power outages are become more and more common due to weather or equipment failures, but the need for power continues to grow. Businesses and homes know they need backup power to keep their lives going even when the grid goes down. This is where battery storage systems, again, come to the rescue. Those with battery backup power have a huge asset, and a huge advantage.

10. A Coming Constraint for Lithium

Battery production is trying to sustain a frantic pace, especially as multiple car manufacturers have announced major shifts to battery powered vehicles. It’s just a matter of time before the high demand on lithium causes a price spike. The market will have to find a way to deal with these constraints in order for the industry to continue to thrive, and continue to innovate and revolutionize the way we generate, use, and store energy.