A few decades ago the idea of using sustainable energy seemed like a long shot. Although solar panels were first developed over 140 years ago, making a solar panel system that was affordable, efficient and convenient enough for the masses to use was a long way off. Wind and hydropower are similarly situated.
Today solar panels are getting more and more efficient. Typically the most efficient solar panels have a conversion efficiency of 20%-23%, which is much better than past generations that usually only reached 10-15% conversion efficiency. We’re also getting better at utilizing energy that’s generated by the wind and water.
Now the big hang up of late has been storing all the energy that’s generated so it can be used effectively. We’re finding that without adequate storage, round-the-clock energy from sustainable solar power isn’t possible. Some people have even made the decision to leave storage out of their solar energy system, while a number of experts note the importance of factoring it in as a central component.
As we move forward into a new energy landscape, it’s time to explore the role that energy storage is playing in sustainable solar power systems and what we should consider moving into the future.
Why Energy Storage is Now Crucial for Sustainable Energy Systems
Producing power and using power are two entirely different things. While there’s been a lot of progress made in the producing department, we’re still playing catchup with putting everything together so that sustainable power sources can replace nonrenewables in the near future.
Without Storage Sustainable Power Use is Restricted
Without an energy storage solution you have to use green energy when it’s generated. That would mean when the sun goes down or the wind stops blowing the lights at home go off. That’s less than ideal for any energy consumer.
The Electric Grid is Limited
Another big reason there’s a push for improved energy storage is electric grids have energy capacity restrictions. They are built to handle only so much energy at once. As we integrate more sustainable energy sources and increase the power supply, we’ll need to increase the energy storage capacity since grids are maxed out. If not, a lot of the energy could be lost and we will still be dependent on nonrenewables.
Investment is in Renewables
It’s clear that the focus is on developing equipment and technology that will allow us to incorporate more renewable energy sources. We’re moving away from nonrenewables. Because of that energy storage is going to play a crucial role in supplying power from here on out.
Energy Storage Allows for the Grid to Scale Up During Peak Demand
No one likes rolling brownouts and black outs. Renewable power and energy storage is one way that the electric grids are solving the problem. During seasons when energy use ramps up stored energy is a backup power supply that reduces reliability issues.
Making Sustainable Power Work Requires More Than One Energy Storage Solution
The key to solving the energy storage issue is to integrate a variety of solutions. This really is the only way to transition from always there, ready-to-go nonrenewables to clean sustainable power. There are three types of energy storage solutions that will likely play the biggest role moving forward.
Bulk Energy Storage
This is where energy storage within the electric grid comes into play. Already electric grids are beginning to tie in sustainable energy sources, however, they aren’t necessarily equipped to store the power when it’s generated. Energy that isn’t used when it’s produced is essentially lost instead of being stored for later use. Because of the capacity loads, bulk energy storage needs to handle large amounts of power.
Residential Energy Storage
Residential energy storage is just as important as bulk energy storage. The goal is to have more energy independence so there’s less pressure on the grid, not more. One of the best ways to accomplish that is residential solar panel systems and wind turbines. However, without an energy storage solution, it only solves about half your energy needs. For households that invest in a sustainable power system, storage is a must for reliability and round-the-clock energy.
Portable Energy Storage
Power on the go is growing in demand. Already we’re seeing a lot of efficient solar-powered portable chargers. Ultimately, the need would be to upscale the energy production and storage for larger portable devices like house generators.
At Verde Energy we’re strong advocates of sustainable energy. Households that aren’t ready to go solar can still go green with our 100% renewable energy plans. Check to see which green energy plans are available in your area.