Published on August 17th, 2012 | by Chelsea24
Adding Batteries to Solar Homes to Ease Grid Pressure
Solar panels are swell and dandy, except when they aren’t enough. And they aren’t enough when homeowners with solar panels are not able to utilize excess energy accumulated earlier in the day during peak sunny hours. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) is trying out a program, called SolarSmart, that attaches batteries to homes to store energy that can be accessed when residents are consuming more power, like late afternoon on a hot day.
The lithium batteries are about the size of mini fridges and can be attached to one home or shared by a couple. The shared batteries can produce 30 kilowatts and store 30 kilowatt-hours. The single batteries can produce 10 kilowatts and store 8.8 kilowatt-hours. At this time, 27 homes are sharing three batteries and 15 homes have their own.
The SMUD battery program costs about $5.9 million. All the batteries are wired for monitoring so SMUD and residents can learn about the pattern of consumption and storage for their home and neighborhood.
Allowing homes and neighborhoods to support themselves with their own stored solar is expected take the pressure off the power grid and reduce the price of power for residents, making solar panels swell and dandy again.