Across the world, power downtime keeps going up. Power outages increased in frequency and were more widespread in 2016, affecting 33% more people. Among the top 15 US utilities, the most recently reported average downtime was more than two hours, with some outages averaging more than seven hours.
Looking back at 2017 may provide insight into why we need a solar storage solution.
Power Outages & Downtime in 2017
- In 2017, 17 hurricanes blasted through the US, putting the year on the top 10 list of most active seasons. The three largest hurricanes, Harvey, Matthew, and Irma took out power in almost 10 million US households.
- A fall storm in the Northeast experienced bombogenesis and more than 1.5 million households lost power.
- A single snowstorm sweetly named Benji wasn’t sweet at all for more than 900,000 households from Southern Texas to Northern New England, knocking out power to more than half of those affected by the storm.
- More than 1,500 tornadoes touched down in 2017, each one taking power from thousands of homes.
- And the Great Southwest Heat Wave of 2017 drove power demand to all-time highs across 5 states.
Maximilian Auffhammer, an environmental economist at the University of California, Berkeley, predicts demand for energy will continue to grow and current power solutions will become cost-prohibitive. Relying solely on natural gas-fired power plants to deliver additional capacity could cost the US grid $180 billion by the end of the century.
We need a safe, reliable, cost-effective energy system and the capability to store energy for use when it’s needed. According to Auffhammer, better battery technology paired with solar and wind power could help manage power costs while meeting demand.
The Winds of Change in Solar Storage
Interest in solar storage solutions gained momentum over the past few years:
- In 2016, the Smart Electric Power Alliance reported a 33% increase in storage capacity across utility, residential, and non-residential segments.
- Legislation in 2016 and 2017 from California, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Oregon enacted energy storage commitments.
- And incentive programs in New Jersey, Maryland, Nevada, and California helped launch the energy storage market.
And energy storage growth, expected to triple in 2018, shows no signs of slowing:
Florida led the charge in 2018 by drafting legislation to provide solar power and storage to key areas during widespread outages. Florida State Representative Holly Raschein sponsored a bill to pilot on-site solar power and storage at Florida hospitals, shelters, airports, police and fire departments. These systems would store energy apart from the grid and eliminate the need for gas- or diesel-fueled generators.
Research firm Technavio estimates the CAGR for residential solar storage will be close to 68% through 2021. A recent report from IMS research predicts demand for solar storage batteries would tally up to $19 billion in 2017.
Not All Solar Storage Solutions Are Created Equal
Vetting of current solar storage systems over time has identified opportunities for improvement. The industry has responded with changes in battery composition and structure, paving the way for new solar storage solutions that will help with the transition to renewable energy.
- Lead-acid batteries — This technology has been used in energy systems for decades. Their relatively short lifespans and lower capacity mean lots of lead-acid batteries are needed to meet demand. These batteries are also slow to charge and not environmentally friendly.
- Lithium-ion batteries — The most popular source of energy storage today, lithium-ion batteries deliver less weight and size than lead-acid. They also have longer lifespans and higher capacity, but struggle to meet eventual large-scale, cross-season demands. Additionally, cycling capacity lessens and probability of overheating and risk of combustion increases with commercial use of current lithium-ion batteries.
- Redox flow batteries — Made with a non-flammable electrolyte solution, redox flow batteries, with vanadium options leading the charge, provide a longer cycle than lithium-ion batteries. They also have longer lifespans than lead-acid or lithium-ion options, up to 25 years, without any degradation in capacity. Size versatility enables vanadium batteries to be used broadly, from small systems to large utilities.
Vanadium flow batteries (VFBs) from StorEn Technologies build on the advantages of redox flow batteries by using proprietary technology to deliver +25% more energy density.
StorEn’s design lowers power costs by more than 50%, providing the lowest per cycle cost available in the market today. Additional innovation enables StorEn VFBs to supply extended duration, reducing maintenance costs.
For many reasons, it has become increasingly clear that we need sustainable, efficient and reliable solar storage for residential and industrial applications — StorEn VFBs are one of the key solutions to a more powered future.
Over the last two years, StorEn has been accepted into the Clean Energy Business Incubator Program at New York’s Stony Brook University, applied for 4 patents and trademarks on its ground-breaking battery technology, participated in the 2017 Global Energy Conference, and received broad support from scientific and business communities.
The company has partnered with Multicom Resources, an Australian mining company, to secure exclusive availability of vanadium for the next 10 years. And the mission is clear — StorEn has plans to transform the renewable energy industry with efficient, resilient, and cost-effective energy storage. You can be part of the change towards a more sustainable energy system by investing in StorEn.