More frequently than ever, we speak with Texas homeowners and businesses eager to add batteries to existing solar systems. Batteries are a great way to maximize the value of solar. The flexibility that they provide allows customers to pivot from being consumers to prosumers, meaning they fully embrace the monetization of power generation. Prosumers can store energy to use at times of peak demand when electricity prices are highest. Or, when the grid goes down, voilà, they have backup power available from their mini-power plant (a.k.a. a microgrid or nanogrid).
Stores Excess Electricity Generation
The key feature that batteries provide for your home energy system is storing excess electricity. Without batteries, any excess electricity generated by your home system will be sent back to the grid. If you participate in a net metering program, you can earn credit for that extra generation, but it’s usually not a 1:1 ratio for the electricity you generate and the amount utilities pay for your power. Net metering makes you dependent on the policies of the utility company you use, some of which have far better sell-back rates than others.
With battery storage, instead of sending electricity back to the grid, excess generation charges your batteries for later use when the sun isn’t shining, like on stormy days or at night. This helps to reduce your reliance on the grid for extra electricity and amplifies your return on investment.
Protects you from Outages
Since batteries store excess electricity generated, this energy would also be available in the event of a blackout or grid failure. The Texas grid is failing along many points of reliability and is exposed to more frequent grid outages. Increased energy demand caused by extreme weather, decommissioned peaker plants (mostly coal), population spikes and a backlog of renewable energy systems waiting to come online (commissioned) create additional concerns for regulators and homeowners. Additionally, batteries create aggregated benefits for your neighbors by reducing strain on the grid. NATiVE brought lessons from Tesla’s Virtual Power Plant (VPP) to the Lone Star state with a VPP and community solar project in Houston, TX.