Scaling Solar + Storage
Renewable energy from solar is an intermittent resource, meaning the energy is not continuously available. Coupling energy storage (batteries) with solar can provide significant benefits and accelerate the path to carbon-free electricity.
Energy can be stored when:
- Demand on the grid is low in off-peak times
- Generation from renewables exceeds demand
Energy storage can then be discharged when:
- Demand on the grid is high during peak times
- When production from renewables cannot meet demand
In addition, localized generation and storage can:
- Avoid many of the losses from transmission and distribution
- Be attractive for peak shaving and mitigating demand charges for commercial customers
Beyond benefiting our homes and buildings, NextEnergy believes that solar + storage can greatly accelerate the buildout of electric vehicle charging. We are currently partnering with Delta Electronics, General Motors, DTE and the U.S. DOE on what we call an “extreme fast charger,” which will be capable of providing approximately 200 miles of driving in 10 minutes. This charger is designed to leverage resources, such as lithium-ion batteries or solar photovoltaic applications, which can lower installation and operating costs while supporting the grid.
Commercializing Green Hydrogen Applications
Hydrogen is one of the most abundant elements on earth. While it is used in many industrial applications, there is a growing interest in hydrogen as an energy carrier for transportation and as a storage method.
The most common methods for producing hydrogen are:
- Fossil fuel reformation, which extracts hydrogen from the carbon chain
- Electrolysis, which splits water via electricity
With fossil fuel reformation, pure hydrogen can be extracted, but the residual effects of carbon must be managed. Electrolysis also produces pure hydrogen; however, the only byproduct of this process is oxygen, allowing us to use electricity generated from carbon-free sources and making it a green solution.
We can harness the power of hydrogen as energy storage under the same scenarios as other forms of storage, such as lithium-ion batteries and pumped hydro, with the same benefits. However, batteries are limited by their physical size and capacity. With hydrogen, we can overcome these limitations. For example, hydrogen can:
- Be generated and consumed locally or onsite to create electricity with fuel cells for applications
- Be moved into tanks and distributed in a manner similar to gasoline as a transportation fuel
- Be moved through pipelines to its end use
For transportation or mobility applications, hydrogen and fuel cells can offer more advantages than batteries in three key scenarios:
- The heavier a vehicle, the more likely that hydrogen and fuel cells offer weight and volume advantages.
- The longer a vehicle needs to run between fueling or charging, the more that hydrogen offers weight and volume advantages.
- The faster you need to refuel the vehicle, the more that hydrogen can offer advantages.
Since commercial trucking and transit buses fit these scenarios, hydrogen can provide carbon-free transportation for commercial trucking and mass transit.