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It's all in the timing: California transitions to time-based net metering 

Alison Seel, SIERRA CLUB
January 28. Today, the California Public Utilities Commission adopted its final, hotly anticipated decision on the future of rooftop solar compensation in California. The Commission voted to keep net metering, allowing new rooftop solar owners to receive compensation for every kilowatt hour of energy they export to the grid at their retail rate.
The big change is that new solar customers will soon be required to be on a time-of-use rate, where electricity is more expensive to buy (and extra solar energy is more valuable to sell), at times of high electricity demand. New net metering customers will be required to start signing up under time-of-use rates as soon as the current net metering program is filled to capacity (expected to happen in six months to a year, depending on the utility).
Time-of-use-based net metering is a wise first step in the evolution of rooftop solar policy. As California takes bold and necessary steps toward a fully decarbonized power system, we’ll need to create a more dynamic relationship between electricity supply and demand. Today’s decision helps us achieve this goal: the simplicity and familiarity of net metering will keep rooftop solar expanding, while time-of-use rates incentivize net metering customers to save solar power for later in the day through adaptations both cutting-edge (battery storage and smart thermostats) and mundane (west-facing panels). This shift can reduce our evening reliance on gas-fired generation, decrease air pollution, and position rooftop solar as a tool to address, not exacerbate, the much-ballyhooed duck curve.
But this isn’t the end of the road. The Commission only narrowly approved the decision, with two Commissioners feeling it didn’t reduce solar compensation enough. The discussion made it clear that rooftop solar policy can and should evolve further, as we’re better able to quantify the locational value of power exports, and as we begin to harness the features of (soon-to-be-required) smart inverters. The Commission will reconsider the issue in 2019, with Commissioners suggesting they’d favor a shift to a model based on a set price for power exports.
Overall, it’s refreshing to see a time- and resource-intensive, high stakes debate result in a balanced outcome (we’re looking at you, Nevada). This decision models how states with high levels of rooftop solar penetration can begin aligning solar compensation with its value in a measured way. Tens of thousands of people weighed in, and in the end, rooftop solar in California is positioned to keep growing, bringing cleaner air, more jobs, and a more resilient power system to California.

Source: It’s All in the Timing: California Transitions to Time-Based Net Metering | Sierra Club

Posted on Categories Climate Change & EnergyTags , , , , , ,

The home battery you can install yourself is coming

Cade Metz, WIRED
Tesla isn’t the only one building batteries for your home. As Elon Musk and company trumpet the Powerwall, so many other outfits, including Samsung and Panasonic and LG Chem, are fashioning similar devices that can store energy for use when the power grid goes down or grid prices rise. So many are saying that, when paired with solar panels, their batteries can further reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, which still provide so much of grid’s power.
All are nice thoughts. But questions abound. Do the economics of these batteries really make sense? Are they worth not only the cost but the hassle of installing them? Are they worth it even if you don’t have solar panels?The ultimate goal here is to create vast networks of home batteries, all fed with solar energy and other kinds of clean power.
Orison, a small startup based in San Diego, wants to show that the people really do want these home batteries. That’s why it’s offering a rather friendly version of the technology via a new Kickstarter campaign. The device is unusually small and light, weighing only about 40 pounds. You can install it on your own, inside the house, simply by plugging into an ordinary electrical socket. And you can get your hands on one if you contribute a mere $1,600 to the Kickstarter campaign.
The device stores only about 2.2 kWh of power—which would, say, run your TV for 5 hours. But you can install additional devices for only $1,100 apiece. And each is designed to blend with a home’s decor. You can choose a device that hangs on the wall or one that stands on the floor, and both models double as an LED light fixture. No, you can’t have one today. But the company says its batteries will ship this summer.
Read more at: The Home Battery You Can Install Yourself Is Coming | WIRED

Posted on Categories Climate Change & EnergyTags , , , , ,

Home energy storage enters a new era

Richard Martin, MIT TECHNOLOGY REVIEW
Driven by the explosion of residential solar power, the market for home energy storage—which attracted little interest until earlier this year, when Tesla announced its Powerwall battery—is suddenly looking crowded.
This week at the Solar Power International show, in Anaheim, a company called SimpliPhi Power is unveiling a lightweight battery system for homes and small businesses that offers a longer life span than other lithium-ion batteries and doesn’t require expensive cooling and ventilation systems.
SimpliPhi’s bid comes a few weeks after another energy storage provider, Orison, released its design for a small plug-and-play battery system that, unlike the SimpliPhi and Powerwall options, does not require elaborate installation or permits for a home or small commercial setting.
Orison is not actually selling its products yet; the company plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign to take pre-orders and expects to begin selling in early 2016. Its innovations center on the batteries’ controls and communication systems: simply plugged into a wall socket, the battery enables a bidirectional flow of electricity, charging itself when power is flowing and sending power into the home circuits when it is not.
The growing popularity of residential solar panels is increasing interest in batteries that could store electricity from those installations. In the future, such storage systems could benefit homeowners, by giving them more control over how and when they obtain the power they need, while helping utilities by shifting demand to off-peak hours and smoothing out the load on the system.
For the moment, despite Tesla’s splashy entry into the market, such batteries still generally remain too expensive and cumbersome for most consumers. SolarCity, the largest solar provider in the United States, began offering a combined solar and storage system using Powerwall this summer, but it’s available only in newly built homes for now. And earlier this year rival SunEdison acquired Solar Grid Storage, an integrator of solar arrays and energy storage—but it’s not yet clear exactly what that will mean for the market in home energy storage.
Read more at: Home Energy Storage Enters a New Era