Installation of solar photovoltaics and other small scale renewables by householders is a growing trend. But given that many of these householders are out at work during the day when the sun is shining and the energy is being generated, they are unable to benefit from that energy without some form of storage.
Advances in technology and declining costs are now making such storage more accessible to homeowners. But like any new technology, the details need ironing out – for example what is the optimum size of the storage, and to what extent could utilities draw on the stored energy? Now forward-looking utilities are starting to investigate some of these issues. In February Salt River Project in Arizona announced a project to investigate the role of residential storage in peak load reduction, and now Duke Energy in Indiana is sinking US$1 million into a project to better understand various aspects of residential storage. [Storage For Solar Customers At Salt River Project – Making It Successful and Duke Energy Puts US$1m Into Energy Storage Research]
Ultimately small scale storage – whether at individual residences, businesses or potentially at a street or community level – will become another form of distributed generation in the network, alongside electric vehicles and utility-scale storage. With it will come both threats but also opportunities for utilities, and those most likely to benefit will be those with the best understanding of what the technology has to offer.
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