The Future of Solar Power & Sustainable Energy is in Battery Technology
We live in a time of on-demand energy usage. When we want to utilize power in our houses, we simply flip a switch. Fossil fuels rule the electrical grid because of their easy maneuverability and capacity to be stored. During peak times of energy use, more fossil fuels can be burned to compensate for increased demand This is not the case with sustainable energy.
Below is an in-depth look at how sustainable energy, specifically solar power, can be harnessed to compete with fossil fuels for cleaner, more energy efficient electrical grids.
Can Solar Energy Be Stored? Sustainable Energy Challenges
All sustainable energy sources, including solar power, have limitations. The main drawback being intermittency. All green energy technologies have limitations with the power source being intermittent; wind turbines depend on weather patterns, hydro and geothermal power can’t be redirected to where they are needed, and solar power is contingent on when the sun is up.
Since you can’t turn on the sun or wind at the flip of a switch during peak use, a viable solution to this problem is to store this energy. Methods of storage vary, but the main options are either on the electrical grid or via battery technology for domestic use. However, the leading idea involves a combination of both.
Storing Sustainable Energy In Batteries
Storage for solar energy gets interesting as new battery technology arises. If solar power is fed into the grid and not used promptly, the energy will be lost as heat. To eliminate this potential loss, different batteries for solar power are in development. The race is on to discover the next economically feasible solar power battery while maintaining a high degree of efficiency.
Cost, efficiency, and lifespan are ways in which professionals gauge the legitimacy of solar panel batteries. The frontrunners of battery technology for solar energy are lead-acid and lithium-ion. Lead acid, while cheap, don’t have much of a lifespan or much capacity for electricity before having to be recharged. Lithium-ion batteries have more capacity and lifespan before they have to be recharged, but are more expensive.
To comprehend a solar batteries role in storing energy, you must first understand the solar panel system. Consisting of four main components, the solar panel system is the total procedure of turning the sun’s energy into the power that runs your home. When sunlight hits your solar panels, the panels turn that solar power into direct current, or DC. The DC is then streamed into an inverter, which converts the DC into alternating current, or AC. This AC is what is used to power the appliances in your home. During the day, this process creates more energy than what is required of a single consumer, so what do you do with the remaining energy?
Options include remaining grid-tied, going off the grid, or a hybrid of the two. In other words, you can choose to feed the remaining electricity into the grid and use the grid essentially as large battery, or store it in batteries for yourself, or apply a combination of the two — using solar panel batteries mostly as backups, or in the event that your state doesn’t offer to credit for storing added energy on the grid. A decision of any solar power method will be made depending on where you live; hours of sunlight, peak energy usage and state net metering options will influence your decision.
Net Metering: A Different Kind of Battery for Solar and Sustainable Energy
In most states, when you feed your excess sustainable energy into the grid, net metering will occur. It is not only a way to utilize the energy, but it is also a way to accommodate the ups and downs of the intermittency of most sustainable energy sources and the surges or slumps of energy demand times.
Net metering allows for your utility company to credit you for the excess electricity your solar panel system produces that you don’t use personally. When your solar panel system is producing more energy than it needs, your meter will run backward — crediting you for the excess energy. In times where you need more power than you are producing, you will be able to draw from the grid as you would normally, before adopting solar power.
On a monthly basis, your utility company will credit you for producing more power than you consumed and how much power you supplied the grid with. Net metering not only makes up for the intermittencies of day-to-day sustainable energy but especially in the case of solar power, seasonal intermittency. As you will be producing more power in the summer than the winter months.
One of the biggest concerns surrounding net metering is that it will cause utility companies to drive up prices to compensate for crediting users who can create the extra electricity for the grid. People who can’t afford a solar panel system will also not be able to afford a hike in the energy bill. However, solar power and net metering are still in developmental stages, and this concern may be rectified with further development. One current option is that you can now even lease solar panels, lessening some of the up-front costs of buying while being able to implement a solar panel system.
The Future of Battery Technology
As it stands, the ideal parameters of solar panels and any sustainable energy battery are that they are cost-effective, efficient, and they maintain their capacity and lifespan, all while being portable. Because of the enormous promises solar power and other green energies have shown, professionals are working day and night to perfect a sustainable battery. We have seen progress with the solar batteries of today, and will only continue to see further progress as more people adopt solar panels for their homes.
Image Source: Pixabay
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