California Preparing For Huge Influx Of Solar

by Anna Gretz
October 29, 2019
Home Battery

California's getting ready for a LOT of solar panel installations.

In a few short months, the state of California will become the first in the US to require ALL new homes to be built with solar panels.

California has been weaning itself off of fossil fuels for a while, but this new solar mandate will really step up their renewables game. Solar already makes up about a seventh of the electricity supply in California. This may sound like a lot (and compared to other states, it definitely is) but CA has set its sights very high. By 2045, California is going for 100% carbon-free power.

The more solar the better, right?

Well, mostly. Right now, most of the rooftop solar systems installed on California homes are designed to feed power directly into the grid. That doesn't seem like a problem... until PG&E shuts off your power.

Wildfire prevention shutoffs have left millions of Californians in the dark... even those with solar. That's right. Even though homeowners may have solar panels, all of that free energy from the sun can't help them if they're still connected to the utility grid.

To have true energy security, solar homes need to store their power in a home battery. When home solar installations are hooked up with energy storage, they can actually use the power generated by their solar panels, even if the grid is shut down.

When the utility cuts power, can solar home batteries really keep the lights on?

Definitely. When frequent, widespread outages started in California's central valley, some households were ready. Equipped with solar panels and energy storage, those homes hardly noticed the power outage.

"Depending on the size of the battery, solar-plus-storage systems can provide resilience: keeping the lights on, the internet running, food from spoiling, etc. It's definitely valuable." Michelle Davis, a senior solar analyst at WoodMac reminds buyers why they invested in solar, and gives a number of reasons why others should.

Internet connection alone provides necessary connectivity that can be vital in the midst of disaster... or simply enable people to work at home, continuing business as usual. That, on top of the necessity of having food and water on hand, and a trusty light source.

Just ask Richard Schuh.

"Between the solar and the batteries, we could go on indefinitely as long as there's some sun." This is what Richard Schuh, an architect living in Northern California, said from the comfort of his well-lit home... when a lot of his neighbors were sitting in the dark.

A few years ago, Schuh installed solar panels on their roof, and rounded out their energy security system with a Tesla Powerwall. The home battery is what made all the difference.

In 2017, Schuh and his wife experienced three weeks of power outages after a major fire hit their property. It was devastating.

"We had solar the whole time, but the solar was shut down because it's connected to the grid. So we weren't able to use that even though it was still generating power." Schuh and his wife were incredibly frustrated. Here was a wealth of power at their fingertips that they couldn't access.

When a utility company sends out a warning that power outages may be on the way, that's when batteries charge up. With a fully charged home battery, a power outage is no big deal. The Schuh's energy security system works independenly to generate and store power from the sun. (Power outage? What power outage?)

Your home can be your own microgrid. With solar panels and a home battery, you can create your own energy fortress. Since the sun dishes out power every day, solar panels can harness that power and store it in a home battery. Your battery acts as your own personal power reservoir, holding and storing power on site until the sun goes down, and you need to keep the lights on.

Not only does solar + storage ensure that your home has power, but it can save on energy bills if you're connected to the grid when it is operating the way it's supposed to. Battery owners can take advantage of off-peak electricity rates every. Single. Day.

Ready to join the solar + storage revolution?

Swell can help, for just $1 a day