Reason #672 Why We Need Energy Storage… Especially Now

by Anna Gretz
February 22, 2018
Home Battery

Here on The Swell, we’ve covered a lot of reasons why energy storage, especially in the form of home batteries, is a key part of the future of energy. You know that home batteries provide seamless energy security. You know energy storage puts the control of electricity back in the hands of the consumer. You definitely know that the power grid is a failing, antiquated system that we can’t rely on much longer.

We’re here to talk about yet another reason why we need energy storage, and we need it now: Electric Vehicles

Now, energy storage isn’t key to the EV equation because there is something wrong with electric vehicles. Quite the opposite. We need energy storage because everything in the electric vehicle market is going really, really well… and it’s stressing out the power grid.

The World Economic Forum recently got together recently and confirmed the good news about EVs that we already knew to be true: battery-run vehicles could slash travel costs in cities AND put a huge dent in emissions at the same time. Electric vehicle production is up, battery costs are down, and many major automobile manufacturers have released statements that EVs are going to be a huge part of their inventory in the future. Basically, everything’s coming up batteries.

But there’s a problem. Yes. It’s the grid. Again.

People are buying up electric vehicles fast, but our power infrastructure isn’t quite as quick to change, as usual. The necessary setup for charging electric vehicles simply has not been put in place yet, and the way things are going right now, charging EVs could create some serious constraints on local power networks.

The WEF, along with their partner-in-research, Bain & Company, says that electric vehicle charging needs to be considered as a legitimate factor as while planning for future infrastructure projects. Marina Lombardi, WEF’s grid edge transformation project lead, knows what we’re talking about.

“Our focus was on electrification and how to deploy it combining the new trends in the energy and mobility systems, so that benefits for cities and citizens would be maximized,” she said of the project. But she said there was one major barrier standing in the way…

“Policy intervention is needed to set the proper conditions for the market forces to work.”

Change in policy is a necessary, and very possible, step to transforming the way we interact with energy. We’re headed in the right direction… but it’s going to take time. A lot of time.

Fortunately, there’s one simple step EV owners can take right now to ensure that they’re not relying on an unreliable power system to charge their vehicles.

EV owners can start an energy storage revolution… in their own garage.

Let’s take a minute and talk about Tesla. There’s a reason why Elon Musk has focused Tesla’s resources on developing a three-fold technology empire. Tesla, known for their electric vehicles, has risen as a name in both the energy generation and storage markets in a big way. Tesla’s newest, most exciting product debuts have been the Model S electric vehicle, the Powerwall 2 home battery, and the revolutionary Solar Roof.

Musk calls it the “Triple Play.” Why does he focus on all three of these branches of the energy market? Because home batteries give electric vehicle owners a huge advantage. And if you want to go a step further, solar photovoltaics give home battery owners the upper hand.

The growth of Tesla and the debut of new projects has been met by plenty of critics. Specifically, many of those present at the unveiling of Tesla’s new solar roof scoffed at the idea of a “car company” making roofing products. But this diversity of products has always been part of Elon Musk’s plan.

Musk’s “Master Plan” is to provide customers with a one-stop-shop for energy, storage, and consumption. But the Triple Threat isn’t appealing because of the eco-friendly advantages of its separate parts. It’s appealing because of the way those three parts work together.

Let’s start with electric vehicles, and home batteries.

The beginning of this article focused on the problems EVs pose to the power grid. Now, let’s talk about that simple solution. Home batteries provide a clean, reliable, and secure way for electric vehicle owners to charge their car at the end of the day. With a home battery, you don’t have to worry about a power outage, and you can even avoid the high cost of energy during the after-work hours (when people are using it the most.)

This is made possible by time-of-use shifting. Time-of-use shifting is a simple, but game-changing method to charging your electric car. All it takes is understanding the way energy demand works, and how to manipulate it to your advantage. Most electric car owners charge their car in the evenings, when they return home from the day, and settle into their evening routine. But that’s when most other people are using electricity, too. That’s why the evening hours are what electric utilities call “peak demand” hours. The demand for electricity is higher in the evening than it is at any other time during the day. In some places, that means there are additional costs and fees associated with using electricity during this time period. It’s definitely when there’s a lower concentration of clean energy on the grid.

The good news is, you can do something about this. Home battery owners can charge up their batteries with cleaner, cheaper grid energy during the day, and use this energy in the evenings to charge their cars, and run their appliances. This is what time-of-use shifting is all about, and it’s one of the biggest advantages home batter owners have. You don’t have to rely on the grid when it’s most expensive, and least reliable. Instead, you can use you own, stored energy from earlier in the day. Or, you could tap into an even cleaner, cheaper, more reliable resource: the sun.

This is where solar photovoltaics come in.

Solar panels, like those featured in Tesla’s solar roof, can use sunshine to charge a home battery, instead of charging up from the grid. There are some big advantages to this.

It’s clean. The sun pours down clean, renewable, sustainable energy every day, without any damage to the environment, or harmful bi-products. It’s as simple as that.

It’s free. Unlike the power grid, the sun doesn’t charge you anything at all. As long as you set up your own solar panel system, the sun offers up its energy for free. All you have to do is take it… and store it.

It’s reliable. The electrical power grid is still running on an antiquated system, and breaks down frequently due to natural disaster, or grid overload. The sun, however, hasn’t changed it’s delivery schedule… ever.

Home battery customer who also have solar panels also have an economic edge… especially if they are charging and recharging electric vehicles. Current utility rates run between 10 and 20 cents per kilowatt hour, depending on where you live, and when you’re using electricity. The other factor is how much you drive, which can vary a lot from person to person. Regardless of your mileage, electric vehicle owners end up spending hundreds, or even thousands a year on the electricity it takes to charge their vehicle. After the initial investment in solar panels and a home battery, this electricity could, instead, be free. For electric vehicle owners, a home battery could pay for itself in a matter of years.

It doesn’t matter whether or not your electronic vehicle is a Tesla, or if your home battery or solar panels are produced by the company either. Tesla’s “Triple Play” applies to anyone who wants to take advantage of time-of-use shifting to charge their electronic vehicle.

Swell believes that solar energy storage can be a key component to clean, sustainable, financially responsible living. If you’re curious about how a home battery can reliably charge your car and save you money, contact a representative.