As Solar Costs Drop, Energy Storage Solutions Take Center Stage
Published: Thursday, 25 July 2013 10:21
Energy storage has emerged as the next big opportunity for the solar industry. With significant improvements in PV technology and new balance-of-system innovations, the solar industry has dramatically reduced both commercial and residential solar system costs in the last year — leading to a substantial increase in the amount of solar connected to the grid in the U.S. The U.S. solar industry achieved impressive growth in 2012, and there is no slowdown in sight. In 2013, EuPD Research projects that the U.S. will add approximately 3.9 GW of new solar capacity and continue robust installation rates for both residential and utility-scale PV systems.
However solar energy, as well as wind energy, relies on an intermittent energy source and output fluctuates based on weather conditions. This presents several challenges for utilities, independent power producers and solar project developers alike. First, variable power generation limits the utility applications of solar technology, as customers demand energy access 24 hours a day — not merely when the sun is shining. Secondly, the U.S. power grid is not yet well equipped to handle surges or quick declines in power demand leaving many utilities unsure about solar's impact on the grid.
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