Published on April 15th, 2016 | by Glenn Meyers


Majority Of US Solar Installers Don’t Offer Storage Solutions, Study Finds

April 15th, 2016 by  

In spite of the growing call by distributed energy enthusiasts for solar-generated electricity storage options, a recent study finds two-thirds of US solar installers do not even offer or explore storage options.

solar power system residential bldg shutterstock_358819163According to pv-magazine, a study by EuPD Research shows only 34% of US PV installers offer storage solutions to customers. The majority of PV installers cite cost concerns as a reason for not exploring storage solutions.

The report added that about 26% of these installers who are not offering storage right now hope to offer storage options in their portfolios this year.

Two prominent storage companies are German-based Sonnen and California-based Tesla. Battery cost and performance are regarded as issues halting more widespread interest from consumers.

EuPD Research’s latest PV Installer Survey USA 2015/16 revealed that only one-third of installers already offer energy storage to US homeowners or businesses looking to adopt solar power.

Of the two-thirds that do not, 38% said that current pricing of batteries hinders demand, meaning margins are too low for installers and the “technological maturity” of the systems on the market is not currently convincing.

The survey asked 302 installers across 42 US states for opinions on the current state of the storage market. Trojan was found to be the most popular battery brand for solar+storage installations. The Tesla Powerwall scored top marks for “unaided brand awareness.”

For the majority of installers, the EuPD Research survey found the most important metric to look for when opting for an energy storage brand is guarantee conditions and ease of installation. The Tesla Powerwall is regarded as a frontrunner on these two points, with installers in the US and elsewhere reporting that installation was relatively quick and easy.

Then there is the cost hurdle, which stands as the leading barrier to wider battery storage adoption.

For the US alone, GTM Research shows the storage market more than tripled in 2015, growing 241% – or 221 MW – for the year, spurred by pro-storage policies in many leading solar states, as well as incremental price decreases for leading battery technologies, particularly lithium-ion.

Utilities are closely following the development of the storage market, especially as it pertains to independent owners of distributed energy solar systems.

UtilityDIVE recently featured this headline: “Should utilities be afraid of Sonnen’s new community storage offering?”

Writer Peter Maloney penned this perspective: “No threat to a traditional utility business model would seem to be more clearly defined than the prospect of a community installing a combination of solar panels and storage in order to become independent from the utility grid, or at least substantially reduce demand.”

Solar power system on residential building via Shutterstock

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About the Author

is a writer, producer, and director. Meyers was editor and site director of Green Building Elements, a contributing writer for CleanTechnica, and is founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.

  • Smithhammer

    And conversely, most customers have absolutely no idea what they are talking about when they say they want a “battery backup” system, even though they are completely convinced that they “need” one. Claims of “$3k Powerwalls” don’t exactly help.

  • Dan

    Real time pricing and demand response software that gave utilities access to batteries connected at homes with or without solar is a logical progression of technology for distributed power generation and storage. Even electric car batteries could be tapped by utilities. Europe and China will probably develop an economic structure to integrate homeowner energy storage into a nationwide grid before the U.S.

    The Rocky Mountain Institute has some good info on creating multiple revenue streams from servicing multiple clients with energy storage.

  • MarTams

    And why should they? It doesn’t pay for itself because of its exorbitant price! After accounting for storage losses, the price difference between peak and off peak utility prices and the lifecyle of storage unit, the price of the storage unit versus the savings, it doesn’t make sense. Show me some numbers that would make sense compared to the current net metering guidelines and you will see that it would not be feasible to add battery storage at this time. Simple as that.

    • Andy

      Not everyone has net-metering.

    • SeaCorey

      The utilities are steadily creating a market for storage by raping net-metering and fighting to delay implementation of DG instead of pioneering it.

    • Mike Dill

      Alright. I have a time-of-use plan in Southern Nevada. In the summer the nighttime rate is $0.06/kWh and in the evening it goes up to $0.36/kWh My so-called ‘net-metering’ pays me $0.04/kWh that I ‘sell’ to the utility no matter what time it is.
      Those rates allow for a significant arbitrage of $0.30/kWh or $0.32/kWh. This is below the cost of the battery cycle, but only for 120 days per year. If there is a long life battery out there that can handle the heat it would sell here.

      • neroden

        Li-Ion batteries seem to do really well in moderate heat. (As in, install it *inside* your house where the A/C keeps the temperature down to 90F, not outdoors in direct contact with the sun.) Cold is a more serious problem (and again seems to mean indoor installations are a must).

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