Solar + Storage: The Viable and Reliable Solution
The heat of late summer brings new challenges for many Americans. Over the last month we’ve seen one of the most severe hurricanes on record hitting Louisiana, while wildfires have raged across California and the West. We hope that you and your loved ones have stayed safe.
With climate change, both hurricanes and wildfires are getting more serious. But it is not only these obvious disasters; the rolling blackouts in California were set off by a spike in power demand driven by record heat, which additionally makes conventional power plants more prone to failure.
These kinds of crises demand both short- and long-term solutions. We have to both keep the lights on during and after disasters, but also make structural changes so that we don’t make these sorts of crises worse in the future.
For both the short- and the long-term, solar plus energy storage are perhaps the most viable solution. One of the lesser-known stories from Hurricane Laura is that as many people died from carbon monoxide poisoning due to the use of portable diesel generators as died from the storm itself. These deaths are tragic and they are avoidable.
With the tools and expertise that the solar industry has developed, PV systems can now be installed to withstand hurricane-force winds. When coupled with batteries these can keep life-saving services going indefinitely.
As a response to wildfires, forward-thinking municipalities and local utilities in California and Colorado are beginning to deploy solar and battery-powered microgrids to keep critical services online in the increasingly likely event that they lose grid power.
In the longer run, climate change isn’t going away and the need is greater than ever to shift to a cleaner, more resilient power system. Solar can and will play a leading role, and already we are seeing this happen. According to Bloomberg, last year solar made up the biggest portion of new electric capacity to come online globally, at 45% of all new power.
But we still need to up the pace. This includes in California, where the blackouts have underscored the need to get more generation—including battery storage—online faster.
Solar and storage are poised to play a major role in the future of energy, and not a moment too soon. A better future is for the energy system is coming. It is just a matter of how quickly we can make it happen.