A new report titled “Closing the California Clean Energy Divide” has highlighted some key insights about the housing market in California as it relates to solar power and energy storage. California has done well in the installation of solar power systems, including some paired with energy storage technology. However, the affordable multifamily rental housing sector is currently not experiencing the same level of solar and energy storage installations.
Affordable multifamily structures are where there could be significant benefits, because lower-income residents would experience meaningful savings on their electricity bills. One of the more stunning insights is on page 3 in the report’s Executive Summary, “The addition of storage technologies has the potential to nearly double stand-alone solar electricity bill savings at about a third of the cost of solar. For example, the addition of a $112,100 battery storage system to a $385,000 solar installation increased savings from $15,000 per year to $27,900, an 85 percent increase in savings for only a 29 percent increase in cost.”
Two more of the report’s key points are equally important, “Adding battery storage to an affordable rental housing solar installation in California can eliminate demand charges for building electricity loads, resulting in a net electricity bill of essentially zero. Solar+storage projects result in a significantly shorter payback period than stand-alone solar projects.”
The thing is, there are many people living in California who are struggling with affordable housing because rents have risen in some areas, and some of them make less money, “Median rents in California increased by over 20 percent from 2000 to 2012, while the median income dropped by 8 percent, significantly driving up the percentage of income that California households must spend on rent.”
So, adding energy storage to solar power systems for multifamily affordable housing could provide yearly savings that lasts quite a while. If the average solar power system generates electricity for 20-25 years and the typical battery system is warrantied for about ten, the savings an occupant experiences over those periods would most likely be considerable.
The report was produced by authors from the Clean Energy Group, California Housing Partnership, and the Center for Sustainable Energy.
Image Credit: Contracosta.ca.gov