Hot Streak: The Rise of Solar+Storage

Over the past several years, the popularity of solar+storage has skyrocketed. Once considered an experimental – even niche – technology, energy storage systems are now desired by a number of U.S. markets. In particular, homeowners and businesses have steadily begun to realize the value of solar+storage, as more utilities implement demand charges and time-of-use rates.

Great Scott—2.2 Gigawatts!

To say this shift is significant would be an incredible understatement, especially since the numbers clearly illustrate this trend. Before 2018, less than 200 MW of residential energy storage systems was installed in the U.S. This is expected to more than quadruple in the next three years: by 2022, over 850 MW will enter the U.S. energy storage market. When combined with the utility-scale solar+storage market, this number catapults to a whopping 2.2 GW annually (2023 forecast)—over eight times the size of the entire 2018 market.

This rapid expansion is indicative of a fundamental evolution in solar+storage, wherein the technology is no longer confined to off-grid installations. Years of advancements in storage tech have paved the way for intelligent, grid-connected storage systems that are able to be used proactively, rather than as mere backup power sources. Soon, these intelligent storage systems will outnumber their traditional counterparts.

The Price Is Right

Similarly, behind-the-meter (i.e. residential and commercial) solar+storage projects will soon overtake front-of-meter (utility) storage systems. By 2023, behind-the-meter storage systems are projected to make up over 67% of the total U.S. solar+storage market. This again showcases the rise of energy storage applications within the residential and commercial sectors, much of which is likely due to continual price drops. Since 2015, the median front-of-meter storage system price tag has fallen by roughly 21%, with back-of-the-meter solar+storage systems following suit. Moreover, storage balance of system (BOS) costs have dropped by over 42% in that same span, and will only continue to drop moving forward.

Keeping With the Times

Given these market shifts, many regions across the U.S. are embracing these systems. Among solar+storage’s strongest stateside markets are California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Arizona, and New York, all early adopters of this multifaceted technology. The U.S. as a whole has championed solar+storage, as well as energy storage in general: between 2008 and 2017, 40% of the cumulative global lithium-ion battery capacity – the most popular battery type for these storage systems – was in the U.S. On top of this, 777 MWh of energy storage was fielded in the U.S. in 2018—a whopping 80% growth over installations the year prior.

While solar+storage certainly has a long way to go, each successive year sees the technology making exciting leaps forward. It’s a safe bet to say that this will continue for the foreseeable future—as such, the phenomenon that is solar+storage will continue to shine.

Source: Solar Power World: Solar+Storage, Special Section, January 2019; Energy storage hits the fast track, doubling year-over-year installations, May 2019.

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