By Justine Boucher It’s become common to look out your window and see solar panels on the roof next door, or in a cluster on the side of the highway. Renewable energy acceptance is not showing any signs of slowing down, and while energy storage can still be the most expensive part of a system, in areas where traditional energy costs are high, adoption is on the upswing. In 2016, this trend will continue to grow as solar energy continues to break records. Solar-heavy states such as Hawaii and California are setting the example of where alternative energy solutions are heading, and other states are starting to catch on. One reason for this trend is Tesla’s Powerwall announcement, which piqued the general public’s interest in different types of battery storage. Batteries are often seen as the most perplexing part of renewable energy systems, and they are part of the discussion about making energy storage work for everyone in an affordable way. On both commercial and residential levels, cost is one of the major issues the cleantech industry faces. Many consumers are picking and choosing systems that work best for them. They want options where they can rely on photovoltaic (PV) during the day, and tap their energy storage at night when consumption is much lower. Utilities are also clamoring to meet demand, often blending other energy storage chemistries such as lithium-ion batteries for long-term storage and ultracapacitors for short bursts of energy. Another hot topic in energy storage is solar leasing, as consumers are looking for fewer barriers to entry to get into the renewables market while prices continue to fall. For example, companies like Sunrun and SolarCity have made it practical to install solar power with fewer upfront costs and use the excess energy whenever it’s needed. This provides residential consumers much needed additional flexibility. Additionally, residential solar companies continue to make strategic partnerships to bring behind-the-meter batteries and home energy control systems to commercial scale. In 2016, we’ll see continued shifts in power between consumers and the grid as these trends become more common. As suppliers and utilities continue to innovate, advanced energy storage is top of mind for both residential and commercial users, and these latest advancements in energy storage are just the beginning. To stay up to date on all the latest developments in the industry, make sure you’re following the top cleantech reporters.
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