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The Marriage of Battery Storage and Solar Panels

image credit: Brooklyn Solar Works

Solar panels and battery storage may have started out as the unlikely couple but are becoming more and more inseparable in todays’ world. But just as the ups and downs of finances impact a relationship, so do the sinking costs of solar and storage. Here, they are helping make the marriage of the two not only more feasible but also sustainable for the long haul. The phenomena is active both for utility scale storage for wider scale PV farms and backup storage, and is also playing out on the rooftop of homes across the globe.  Some key figures bear out the healthy upward trend linking solar to storage including:

  • The U.S. will become the largest market for grid tied energy storage this year (IHS Markit)


  • Solar-plus-storage combination is supercharging the deployment of batteries across the country (IHS Markit)


  • Since 2017, every second residential PV installation in Germany  has been paired with a battery pack


  • In Germany as of September 2019, there are roughly 150,000 home storage systems with an estimated capacity of about 1GWh in circulation


Battery storage has given photovoltaic solar panels a boost in the market as the upfronts costs of solar panels drop through new financing arrangements and the ability lease panels through power purchase agreements. PPAs reduce or eliminate the need for upfront costs for both residential and commercial applications at a price that is typically below the price of power purchased from the utility.

The increasingly inseparable mash-up of solar and storage continues to reduce intermittency issues whereby some portion of solar power generated can be stored and consumed at a later time on the grid. For utility scale figures on the costs of solar paired with storage options the National Renewable Energy Laboratory provides a useful graphic below "PV Plus Storage Cost Breakdown" showing that for utility scale deployments, the varying costs of PV systems with x amount of battery power in Megawatts that can last for Y duration. Click here for more details. 

Solar plus storage cost breakdown


Areg Bagdasarian's picture

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Sep 13, 2019 1:09 pm GMT

The increasingly inseparable mash-up of solar and storage continues to reduce intermittency issues whereby some portion of solar power generated can be stored and consumed at a later time on the grid

Co-location is just an obvious cost, space, & resource advantage. Distributed storage/solar solutions are great for where there's limited amounts of either, but on a utility-scale all solar should be built in lockstep with the increasingly efficient and affordable storage solutions

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Sep 13, 2019 7:11 pm GMT


Co-location makes sense. However, it will also make sense to locate storage far away from the solar generation.

Here are some use cases:

1) In areas that are transmission constrained - for example inparts of LA - non co-located storage makes a lot of sense.

2) Where old coal or NG plants have been shut down.  Moss Landing in CA is a great example of this. An old building which used to house a turbine is being repurposed.  The transmission lines are already in place. 

3) Storage can help manage charging of EV fleets. There may be some V2G possibilities here as well. 

 4) Finally, I think eventually every substation will have some storage. .



Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Sep 13, 2019 10:36 pm GMT

I certainly agree with the need and use cases of distributed storage. But with one of the big hindrances of storage today being the cost, seeing the market grow thanks to the cost efficiencies gained via co-location is a great way to stimulate that development. 

GEORGE WAYNE's picture
GEORGE WAYNE on Sep 19, 2019 10:20 pm GMT

We need energy storage for sure paired with RE.  Cost is not the only hindrance with batteries, duration is one, and poor LCA score with regards to emissions (Life Cycle Assessment) is another.

Alternatives solutions exist today that are cost effective such as CAES; Cryogenic Air Storage, LNG ... and good old pumped hydro!  In my frequent discussions with the ESS scientists at NREL, they agree, batteries certinaly have their limitations; hence, the longer term solution that needs to emerge whereby one of these alternatives technologies on the horizion such as flow batteries, hydrogen have better long term prospects.  

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Sep 20, 2019 11:05 am GMT

Great points, George. Having a smorgasbord of storage solutions is a terrific place to be-- with LI batteries and other developing techs being one of the many options-- so that the right solution can be chosen for each project based on its specific needs regarding cost, duration, efficiency, physical footprint, geography, and more.  

GEORGE WAYNE's picture
GEORGE WAYNE on Sep 22, 2019 11:43 pm GMT

Exactly Matt ... not a one size fit's all solution.  The same concept can be applied to generation technologies as well.

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