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Solar Energy Storage
By LISA SMITH 386 views
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How Solar Energy Storage Solutions Have Evolved

In the 7th century, someone figured out that sunlight through a magnifying glass would start a fire. Ever since then, humans have been looking for ways to harness the power of the sun. And given the deadly ramifications of climate change, now is a more important time to do so than ever.

Today, solar panels effectively capture the power of the sun and photovoltaics transform it into electricity. The sticking point has been how and where to store what isn’t used. It has challenged the capacity, reliability, and quality of solar power. Issues with energy storage have been a deterrent for some who otherwise might switch to solar.

Of course, technology will always be improving this green energy. However satisfactory advances in solar capture and transformation now allow the industry to focus on storage solutions. And those are getting better and better. Here’s how energy storage solutions have evolved.

Demand Has Created Affordability

Most of us don’t think too much about how the electric utility provides power. We just count on it to work every time we flip a switch. Storage and availability of power on the grid is their problem, not ours.

In recent years, the cost to buy and install solar panels and transformers has become more affordable. Even better, many homeowners can opt for leasing solar panels. Paying as you go without the significant up-front investment is truly bringing solar to the masses. As it does, demand grows, pushing costs even lower. That’s attractive to those who want to take control of their power.

For a long time, though, using solar was still the purview of electric utilities. Companies paid homeowners for the overage they produced. They stored and sold that power to other customers. But sometimes, homeowners didn’t have enough sunshine to keep the lights on. Then, they had to go back on the grid and buy it from the utility company.

This created more demand for more affordable, reliable, and better batteries. Homeowners want to store their overproduction and tap into it when needed. It makes them self-reliant, which is what most want from solar energy. This closed circuit is sure to continue to improve.

Safety Has Become Job One

Battery safety has been a huge issue. Now that developers are more focused on storage system technology, safety has moved to the forefront. It can remove yet another barrier between solar energy and people who don’t want to risk starting fires.

Battery energy storage systems for solar power have relied on the same type of battery that powers your cell phone. That lithium-ion battery uses a precise balance of positive and negative ions when charging. Processors that heat up too quickly and alter that chemical balance can cause overheating, fire, and even explosions.

The battery risk is bad enough. Couple it with the economic and environmental cost of mining lithium and disposing of old batteries and the disadvantages are severe. That has prompted major research and development of far safer battery storage systems like sodium-ion, zinc-ion, and lead-acid batteries.

The challenge to new and safer storage options is size, reliability, and power output, which lithium-ion batteries have. But those choices are increasing as companies strive to build a better mousetrap. Their goal is to construct one that will figuratively, not literally, catch fire with consumers.

AI and ML Are Changing the Rules

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are becoming increasingly ubiquitous. They’re being used at home and on the job no matter where you live or work. It’s no wonder that they’re now being deployed to improve solar energy storage solutions on a grand scale.

ML is a subcategory of AI, but they go hand in hand when used to optimize storage solutions for captured solar power. They help maximize the amount of energy systems can gather and calculate how that energy can be used most efficiently. And when it needs to be stored for cloudy days and peak usage AI and ML will help.

AI tracks performance usage and overproduction in real time and sorts that data. ML uses that data to develop statistical models and algorithms that can predict patterns. All this intel becomes predictive, which means maintenance of storage systems can be anticipated and performed before there’s a problem. In other words, they help the system improve performance and efficiency.

AI and ML are also helping make battery storage safer. Again, if a potential problem or failure is anticipated, it can be addressed before it becomes a danger. The only downside with AI is the privacy concerns that accompany this technology. Companies understand that, so look for those to be addressed as well.

It’s Getting Easy Being Green

Kermit the Frog might have faced challenges being green. But going green by installing solar is getting easier and easier these days. Moreover, energy storage systems are taking precedence rather than being afterthoughts in the process.

The time has come for them to evolve more quickly. Net metering schemes, which pay consumers for the energy overage they produce, are being replaced by net billing tariffs. California is leading the way with NBTs which charge solar customers for energy they use when their systems don’t produce enough electricity. That has given energy storage systems a massive boost as consumers want to avoid paying for time back on the grid.

Everyone is looking for a stronger, more reliable, and safer battery. And that’s precisely the direction in which the industry is charging.

Lisa Smith
Author
LISA SMITH

Lisa Smith is an accomplished content writer with a passion for crafting compelling narratives and engaging readers across various platforms. With a keen eye for detail and a creative mind, Lisa has established herself a

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