Solar industry in the United States is set for a promising future as investor are backing new super-sized batteries. Energy hungry technology companies and fund managers are both investing into solar plus storage projects.
These recent investments will mean that solar power will not just be limited to daylight hours.
Recent investment now means that solar energy projects are now increasingly being built across America with the addition of large energy storage batteries alongside them to store the surplus electricity that is generated throughout the day. This surplus can then be used in the evening and overnight to power home appliances, even when there is no sunlight.
The big financial commitments to the energy storage technology will now provide a safety net for the gently balanced electricity markets in the united states. The new technology will also help make way for the rise in renewable electricity generation.
There has now been a very sharp increase in the number of solar farms that are being planned and developed across the states. For example, the Tennessee Valley Authority have announced plans for a 200 megawatt solar plant which will be paired with a 50 megawatt battery storage system in Mississippi and in Florida there are plans to build the largest solar powered battery in the world in 2021 by NextEra Energy.
The reason for the increase in solar energy projects paired with the battery storage systems is not just because of the improved technological advancements but also because of the sharp decline in costs. Solar panels have dropped by around 77 per cent whilst the lithium ion batteries have dropped 87 per cent in the last 10 years. This means some projects can now offer electricity at prices that are cheaper than a conventional natural gas fired power plant and it is already cheaper than all coal fired power plants.
Government policy has also aided in this rise of solar plants. Battery storage which is installed with renewable energy earns US tax credits making it a more attractive for companies to use the technology. In addition to this, battery operators are also able to sell electricity to the wholesale market.
However, the forecasts on capacity are still a tiny fraction of the total generating capacity of the entire United States, and more needs to be done to increase this fraction.
The batteries do have their draw backs. They are only able to store energy for a short period of time, they are useful to store energy to be used for the evening of a sunny day, however the energy cannot be stored over periods of time to then be used on cloudy days. Let alone to be stored over a summer to then be used the following winter.
Whilst batteries have their drawbacks, technology is only going to improve as time goes on meaning they are more efficient and are able to store electricity for a much longer time. this technology is on the edge of being in large scale deployment stated the co-founder of Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners, David Scaysbrook.
it is predicted that by the year 2050, that the electricity generation from solar power plants will increase ten times over. This will bring the market share of renewables over one third of the entire market. This share could be improved even more if the desert in the south west of the United States, which receives high amounts of sunlight, is exploited and used to generate electricity from solar power.