Why distributed solar is set to explode (are you ready?)

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By: SGN Staff

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By Jesse Berst

 

Markets often grow in step functions. They move gradually up until a blocker is removed that lets them jump to a new level. James Greenberger is out with an article suggesting that distributed solar is poised for rapid growth for just that reason.

 

Greenberger is the Executive Director of NAATBatt, a trade association working to grow the market for advanced batteries for automotive and grid-connected applications. Writing in the Energy Collective, he says the solar industry is finally waking up to the importance of storage.

 

As he points out, several other trends have converged to make solar more appealing, including improved technology and lower cost panels. If solar developers now figure out how to cost-efficiently bundle storage into their packages, the sector could get another boost.

 

Is more solar good news or bad news?

Here's the key question: Is distributed solar good news or bad news for electric power utilities? On the one hand, storage is an ideal tool for managing a grid rife with distributed, variable renewables. On the other hand, "widespread deployment of distributed generation... will be fundamentally disruptive to... the electricity grid."

 

We recently reported on solar's accelerating growth rate and the challenges that growth is likely to represent for utilities, particularly those that aren’t taking the trend seriously.

 

It was good to read that a "grid outsider" like Greenberger was savvy to the importance of the grid to our distributed future. "The grid will remain a vital source of backup power, a source of primary power for some, and, significantly, a resource for owners of distributed generation to monetize the value of electricity they cannot use themselves, by wheeling it to other users on the grid," he writes.

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