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Is Nighttime Solar Energy Finally Possible?

Solar energy has a ton of advantages. It’s non-invasive, renewable, clean, and generally pretty efficient. Only two drawbacks have kept it from being a more widespread and available source of power; first, it’s been somewhat cost prohibitive, though new advancements like cheaper PV panels and highly efficient supporting systems like our Solar Tracker have helped reduce those costs in recent years. The second, and final remaining obstacle, is the fact that the sun is only out for part of the day, limiting the amount of time any solar energy unit has to collect and produce energy.

Now, according to a few major announcements (which coincidentally happened independently of each other), 2015 could be the year when battery storage of solar energy gets to a point where it’s possible to harness it for nighttime needs. Numerous grid-sized projects are now either under construction or are running in experimental mode, hoping to store daytime solar energy for nighttime use.

For example, Elon Musk-headed Solar City recently announced a major operative system to be constructed in Hawaii, hoping to mitigate some of the state’s high energy costs with a revolutionary new battery storage system. Theoretically, the project could provide 20 years’ worth of electricity using a 52 megawatt per hour battery that can supply 13 megawatts of power to the grid. The technology in the power storage system would allow this energy to be distributed during evening hours, a feat that only a few currently operating solar power systems are able to match.

Stafford Hill Solar Farm has attempted something similar, relying on solar power and advanced storage to supply electricity to a small-scale grid with no access to any other types of fuel to complement those needs.

This breakthrough in solar power storage is going to do two things for the solar industry; first, it’s going to make energy cheaper and easier to manage over long periods, and second, it’s going to make solar energy a possibly exclusive choice for energy provision. Both these benefits mean more people will be installing more solar panels, and our solar racks will be there to continue making them as efficient as possible.