Those working in the solar industry believe solar plus storage is our energy future and the market trends suggest they might be right.
Solar Power Generation International surveyed solar industry business owners asking what they see as the future of solar. While 1 percent of respondents said Concentrated Solar Power and 17 percent said rooftop solar or industry growth in new solar states, 27 percent voted for solar storage hybrid systems.
The only answer to beat out the hybrid systems was “all.” A whopping 40 percent of survey respondents said every area of the solar industry is a growth opportunity that will encompass the future of solar.
While the 40 percent are probably right, the 27 percent voting for solar storage hybrid systems certainly aren’t wrong. Industry analysts expect that to be one of the fastest growing sectors of the already fast-paced industry.
GTM Research released a study this week announcing that the solar-plus-storage market will likely surpass $1 billion by 2018.
“Between California’s recent mandate for the state to procure 1.3 gigawatts of energy storage for its grid and the announcement of Tesla’s Gigafactory, the energy storage market is nearing a tipping point,” according to the report.
While pairing solar with battery storage creates opportunities for true grid independence, GTM doesn’t suggest consumers will defect from the grid. On the contrary, storage should enhance net metering experiences both for solar generators and for the utilities that partner with them.
Solar storage hybrid systems are currently being deployed to work in concert with the grid and provide stored power when it’s most needed and there’s no indication that will change dramatically in the near future.
Currently, solar storage hybrid systems give consumers an opportunity to spend less upfront on a costly solar array. When paired with battery storage, systems can work well with net metering programs to lower or nearly eliminate electric bills, especially in areas that price power according to demand peaks.
Several factors contribute to the subsector’s rapid growth.
Lithium-ion battery prices have been dropping dramatically and are now falling 20 to 30 percent a year.
Since systems qualify for the federal Investment Tax Credit for renewable energy technology, they can be especially affordable and will only become increasingly affordable as time ticks forward.
The growth expected in the solar-plus-storage market is astronomical. GTM estimates that the market is $45 million now in 2014, but that it will be 169 megawatts and $1 billion within four years.