David Roberts, VOLTS
Energy nerds love arguing over the value of distributed energy resources (DERs), the rooftop solar panels and customer-owned batteries that are growing more popular by the day. There’s a fight in California right now over the value of energy from rooftop solar, just the latest skirmish in a long war that has ranged over numerous states.
The conventional wisdom in wonk circles is that the value provided by DERs is not sufficient to overcome the fact that the energy they produce is, on a per-kWh basis, much more expensive than that produced by utility-scale solar, wind, and batteries (residential solar is roughly 2.5 times as expensive as utility-scale solar, according to NREL).
For that reason, many wonks view DERs as a kind of boutique energy and argue that public funds are better spent on utility-scale energy.
Turns out: no, that’s wrong. Some groundbreaking new modeling demonstrates that the value of DERs to the overall electricity system is far greater than has typically been appreciated.