Elon Musk gets most of the attention for his ambitious promotion of the Tesla Powerwall, but there are many other on-site energy storage systems. Most of the new battery systems contain lithium-ion cells similar to power tools, tablet computers and electric vehicles. This is a new and exciting market that shows considerable promise for those with the vision to see its benefits and applications. It allows buildings to optimize use of solar and grid-based electricity. Electricity generated during a sunny today, can be used that day and/or during a cloudy tomorrow.
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In areas with time-of-use electric rates, utility power consumption can be shifted to off-peak times when rates are lower. Commercial customers can reduce demand charges. If grid power goes down, you can keep the lights on. Some people are even leaving the grid altogether, something called grid defection. When tied to a rooftop photovoltaic system, storage qualifies for a Federal 30% Solar Investment Tax Credit
As it stands today, solar consumers find themselves at the mercy of the electric utility industry. Some utilities recognize the benefits of distributed generation, while others have started pushing back, threatening the economic value of rooftop systems. Consumers with solar electric systems could become entirely independent. Utilities would be wise to recognize that consumers will soon have a choice.
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