Two weeks ago, we reported that “solar-plus-storage” was the hottest new thing in advanced energy. This week, the New York Times agreed, posting a science feature on the growing (and growth!) partnership between batteries and renewable energy.
Why now? As Henry Fountain writes in the Times, some states, including California, are requiring storage as part of their energy mix, in order to reduce peak demand spikes. These requirements, combined with a rise in rooftop solar systems that could reduce the need for grid-purchased electricity with storage of their excess generation, and with mass production of lithium-ion cells at falling costs, “batteries are set to play a significant part in the nation’s power supply.”
The unavoidable Elon Musk, for one, is banking on it. This week Tesla Motors teased a new “home and utility” battery to be released April 30. “We are going to unveil the Tesla home battery, the consumer battery that would be for use in people’s houses or businesses fairly soon,” Musk said during an earnings conference call in February.
With all this talk of a grid system based on rooftop solar backed by home storage systems and fully linked and programmable appliances, one might think a smart home couldn’t be too far off. Not so fast, writes Stephen Lacey in Greentech Media this week. The results of a new survey from Clean Edge and AEE member SolarCity are promising: half of all Americans think solar energy is "the most important technology for the country's future." When it comes to putting the money where their mouths are, however, it's a slightly different story: just 6 percent said they would "consider buying a PV system within the year," and only 12 percent said they would buy a smart thermostat in that time period.
But advanced energy companies are not to be deterred. Earlier this month, AEE member company SolarCity announced a partnership with Google’s Nest thermostat and in March two AEE member companies, SunPower and EnerNoc, partnered to provide energy management software and solar power to large-scale commercial and industrial customers. Essentially, the two companies will trade products for existing customers: EnerNOC’s customers will be offered SunPower’s solar services, and SunPower’s customers will receive EnerNOC’s energy management software-as-a-service.
Other AEE Members are making headlines as well. Six AEE member companies were featured in GTM’s Grid Edge 20, the top companies Greentech Media see as “disrupting the U.S. electric market.” Congratulations to Gridco Systems, Opower, SolarCity, Enphase, Landis+Gyr, and Stem, which all made the GTM list. Siemens announced a new Wi-Fi-enabled electric vehicle charging system, and WaterSmart was featured in a two recent articles detailing solutions to California’s water crisis, in the New York Times and in the San Francisco Chronicle.
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