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Is Energy Storage the Next Big Hurdle in Solar Energy?

Solar energy is clean, renewable, and reliable, but it has yet to replace the fossil fuels and other non-renewable sources that we’ve relied on for decades because of limitations in its cost and efficiency. At Solar FlexRack, we’re doing our part to increase the number of potential jobsites for large-scale solar installations by creating flexible, adaptable racks, but we’re only one part of the equation. While our solar racking and mounting units can improve PV unit efficiency and reduce the total cost of installation, the monetary returns on PV units are still holding many potential investors back.

Part of the problem is the way that solar energy is stored. Because the sun is only up for part of the day, PV units can only operate at maximum efficiency for that portion, meaning no active energy supply is running at night. To solve this problem, solar experts have introduced some early forms of energy storage—batteries—to supply a constant stream of energy even when the sun is down.

However, these batteries aren’t currently operating at a high level of efficiency. Because the energy collected from the sun from one day to another will never be equal, and because user demand is never predictable, it’s tough to create a sustainable system. New “smart” battery systems, with the ability to intuitively predict changes in energy generation as well as output, might be able to better handle this give-and-take process. A tight network of small storage batteries, with 30 to 40 minutes of power, are theorized to perform optimally under direction from a broader system, with some early research estimating these batteries, in use with an efficient solar installation, could reduce the total payback period to 4 or 5 years. This means that new solar panel and solar racking installations could see a return on investment in as little as four years, which is a major step forward for the industry.

At Solar FlexRack, we’ll be watching to see how these solar energy batteries develop, but our concern is ensuring the greatest efficiency and lowest cost of PV installations with our advanced engineered solar racks. If you’re interested in more information about how our racking and mounting units increase energy production and lower installation costs, contact us!