Future of electric power: Net zero homes get a step closer


Quick Take: The idea of net zero homes -- homes that produce as much power as they use -- has been around for a while. But they have always suffered from the difficulty of matching the load profile to the generation profile. At most homes, much of the load occurs early in the morning and then again in the evening, when people are home from work. Meanwhile, generation from the home's solar panels is often highest in the middle of the day.


Solving this mismatch requires energy storage, and that's too expensive. But wait a minute. What if you already had a stack of batteries sitting out in your garage? What if your electric vehicles (EV) could store that solar electricity for you? Sure, you'd use some of it to run the car back and forth to the store. But you could also use those batteries to store energy for use by the house.


Recently I stopped by to warn about the scary future posited by Walmart's future energy plans. Now I urge you to think what might happen if, let's say 10 years from now, a substantial number of homeowners have solar panels and EVs. First, they'll need to buy far less power from their utilities. Second, they'll be able to time shift, so the power they do buy is at low time-of-use rates. -- Jesse Berst