People talk about solar panels and batteries a lot (at least the people I talk to). The reasons are that solar panels are conspicuous on rooftops — and batteries are what keep the lights on during increasingly frequent blackouts. But the real brains of a solar and battery storage system is the inverter.
With increased global production, solar panels and battery cells have become commodities — differentiated mainly by price and efficiency. For a variety of reasons, inverters are still quite specialized. Initially, inverters simply converted DC current to household AC current. Modern inverters also provide a variety of safety features (rapid shutdown and arc fault protection), monitoring, and grid support services. The next generation of inverters extends beyond solar, providing backup power, EV charging and home energy management capabilities.
Through a combination of great technology, disciplined execution and industry vision, SolarEdge has become the leading inverter company. Based on my experience in the field (and roof), they have the best combination of efficiency, safety, installation ease and overall value. Most importantly, SolarEdge continues to push the technology envelope as they expand into backup power and distributed grid services.
Our guest on this week’s Energy Show is Peter Mathews, General Manager of North America for SolarEdge. He has done a terrific job growing SolarEdge to over a 60% market share in the U.S. Please listen to this week’s Energy Show as Peter shares insights around SolarEdge’s business, how SolarEdge is addressing the power crisis in California, their new commercial products, and the company’s ongoing product vision for a distributed grid.
Solar is clean and renewable and cheap. So more solar is better for everyone…except your local utility. Keep in mind that utilities generate their profits from selling electricity and building generation, transmission and distribution assets. When electricity customers install more solar, utilities make less money. Unfortunately, utilities have the political clout to enforce their monopoly on customers who would otherwise prefer less expensive rooftop solar. The biggest battles are emerging in relatively mature solar markets. (more…)
Here’s a solar industry secret: all solar panels generate the same amount of electricity on a per watt basis. In other words, twenty 300 watt panels will generate exactly the same amount of electricity as twenty-five 240 watt panels. Indeed, there are objective differences in panel cost, efficiency, aesthetics and ease of installation — and now with the upcoming tariff, even availability. But differences such as brand, assembly quality, country of origin and projected degradation rates are much more subjective since they are based on manufacturer’s claims and not based on objective third party studies. (more…)
Large companies are predominant in most industries. But when it comes to rooftop solar installations, small is beautiful. Although there have been several large national-scale solar installers, in the aggregate the smaller, local companies dominate. As with most other construction businesses, local companies generally understand their local markets better and have lower overhead — enabling them to provide better customer service at lower prices.
On this week’s Energy Show we have the pleasure of speaking with Vince Battaglia, the CEO of Renova Solar. Renova started as Vince’s MBA thesis; eleven years later Renova is now the leading solar installation company in the Coachella Valley. Like many other local solar installation companies, Renova has expanded its residential solar installation business to include commercial installations, system maintenance and battery storage.
Granted, the Palm Desert area is blessed by an abundance of sunlight and high electric rates – a combination that is perfect for a thriving solar business. But dealing with the ups and downs of the Solar Coaster is challenging. For more about the challenges inherent in building and running a successful local solar business, Listen Up to this week’s Energy Show on Renewable Energy World.
20 years ago the problem with rooftop solar was that customers needed a large collection of lead acid batteries to store their daytime energy and use this energy at night. But simple net metering rules made it possible for the electric grid to function as a 100% efficient storage device. Unfortunately, utilities are doing everything they can to eliminate net metering so they can maximize their profits. So the compelling need for battery storage linked with rooftop solar has re-emerged.
Although lead acid batteries are an inexpensive and mature technology, they are not well suited for home energy storage applications. Fortunately, lithium ion batteries have become much more reliable and inexpensive – primarily because of production volumes required by the automotive industry. And just in the nick of time as net metering is constrained in some states, and time-of-use electric rates shift towards late afternoons and evenings (limiting potential rooftop solar savings).
LG Chemical is one of the largest battery manufacturers in the world. They recently introduced a line of residential and commercial energy storage systems that are optimized for both residential and commercial solar applications. LG knows how to make reliable appliances – which is essentially what a home battery storage system will be in the home of the future.
My guest on this week’s Energy Show is Linh Tran, Western Regional Sales Manager for LG Chem Power. In addition to explaining the features and benefits of LG Chem’s battery storage products, Linh also explains the special handling requirements that are mandatory for installers of large battery storage systems (hint: DOT Hazmat training is required). For a quick education on the latest in home battery storage, Please Listen Up to this week’s Energy Show on Renewable Energy World.
Our local electric grid is not up to the 21st century demands of EVs, more air conditioning requirements, heat pumps instead of natural gas furnaces, and rooftop solar. In general, we have plenty of power, especially with inexpensive electricity from solar and wind. But this power, often generated in remote locations hundreds of miles away from customers, is not getting to the homes and businesses that need it, resulting in issues with local grid reliability.
There are two solutions to modernizing overloaded local grids. The “business as usual” solution is to pay the local utility for upgrades that include bigger transformers, wiring, control systems and battery storage. Unfortunately, ratepayers get stuck with higher electric bills for these upgrades. A much better solution is to encourage homeowners and businesses to install their own solar and storage systems.
Rooftop solar systems already have paybacks in the 4-6 year range. And new battery storage technologies are coming down in price so rapidly that they make good economic sense in many locations. So if you have encountered any power failures recently at your home or business — and you are wondering what can be done about this problem — Listen Up to this week’s Energy Show on Renewable Energy World.