Energy Storage is Coming Home
Driven by technological innovation and economies of scale, the installed price of solar photovoltaics has plummeted in recent years. Combined with federal and state incentives, and creative financing models, these low prices have ushered affordable solar power into the mainstream. In 2014, 6.2 gigawatts of solar PV were installed in the U.S. alone, 20 times the amount installed in 2008.
Meanwhile, residential battery storage, a mainstay in the early days of solar PV, has largely been relegated to the fringe as an expensive, rarely-used backup. Most end-users now connect to the electric grid, relying on utilities to provide power when their PV systems don’t. These users employ the grid as a robust, always-available “battery” to which they enjoy free access, obviating the need to pay for their own storage solutions.
But that paradigm may be about to change. Anticipating fundamental revisions to residential rate structures, Enphase, the PV microinverter market leader, is preparing to launch a new AC-battery residential storage solution in 2016. Should projected rate changes come to pass, the Enphase AC Battery system, combined with solar PV, could present homeowners with a compelling economic proposition. With over 8 million microinverters deployed worldwide, Enphase may be in a unique position to bring residential battery storage to the masses.
While the residential energy storage market has yet to blossom, the utility-scale market is booming. U.S. energy storage capacity grew by 40 percent from 2013 to 2014, with 90 percent of that new capacity deployed in front of the meter (i.e., utility-scale). Storage in all markets combined is expected to grow another 300 percent in 2015.
Residential and commercial and industrial (C&I) storage may represent just 10 percent of the overall market today, but a recent GTM research report predicts behind-the-meter storage (residential, commercial, education, military or nonprofit) will account for 45 percent of the market by 2019.