Batteries: Is the Future Here?

Batteries: Is the Future Here?

One of the major drawbacks of wind and solar energy is what happens when the wind isn’t blowing or at night when the sun isn’t shining?  Currently, solar and wind users are still connected to the electric grid through a process called “net metering.” Still being connected to the grid means that when it isn’t sunny, or the wind isn’t blowing, users still have electricity provided by their power company.  As more and more people enroll in net metering programs, utility companies will try to reduce incentives for net metering customers, as many utilities have already started to do. 

As these policies change, how can green energy users receive proper value for installing a solar system at their home, business, farm, etc.?  One option that has become increasingly talked about in the recent years is pairing a solar energy system with batteries.  Batteries would enable users to store the energy that their system produces during the day or when the wind is blowing to use later when their system isn’t producing as much energy. 

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Tesla has made news in the past few months for a giant battery system it installed at a wind farm in Australia.  It is large enough to power up to 30,000 homes, but what about batteries for a single home?  Companies like Tesla, LG, Sonnen, and many others offer battery systems that will allow homes and businesses to get the most out of their solar energy systems.  The main drawback, however, is the price.  The price of the battery system can be over half of the cost of a solar energy system, greatly lengthening the payback period. 

Batteries are still a new product; as companies get more efficient and costs lower, batteries will become more affordable and commonplace among households.  Current prices and mostly favorable utility policies make net metering a better economical choice than batteries, but that could soon change.

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