Solar-Plus-Storage Systems

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research

What it is

Solar-plus-storage systems combine solar PV with energy storage systems, such as batteries, to address intermittency issues and provide reliable power even when the sun isn’t shining. This integration is crucial for increasing the grid penetration of solar energy and ensuring grid stability.

Impact on climate action

Solar-Plus-Storage Systems in Utility Scale Solar PV bolster climate action by enhancing renewable energy reliability and grid stability. By storing excess solar energy for later use, these systems reduce reliance on fossil fuels, mitigate carbon emissions, and accelerate the transition to a resilient, low-carbon energy system, combating climate change.

Underlying
Technology

  • Solar PV: Solar PV panels convert sunlight into electricity.
  • Energy Storage Systems (ESS): ESS, such as batteries, store excess solar energy for later use.
  • System Integration and Control: Solar-plus-storage systems require sophisticated control systems to manage energy flows between the solar panels, ESS, and the grid.
  • Grid Services: Solar-plus-storage systems can provide valuable grid services, such as frequency regulation and peak shaving, to enhance grid stability and reliability.

TRL : 7-8

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Advanced Battery Technologies: Advancements in battery technology, such as lithium-ion batteries and flow batteries, are improving the cost-effectiveness, energy density, and lifespan of ESS for solar-plus-storage systems.
  • Smart Inverters: Smart inverters can manage energy flows between the solar panels, ESS, and the grid, optimizing system performance and providing grid services.
  • AI-Powered Energy Management Systems: AI and machine learning are being used to optimize energy usage and reduce costs in solar-plus-storage systems. These systems can predict energy demand and optimize charging and discharging cycles.
  • Integrated System Design: Companies are developing integrated solar-plus-storage solutions that combine solar panels, ESS, inverters, and software into a single, optimized system.

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  • Tesla:
    • Technology Enhancement: Tesla is known for its integrated solar energy solutions, including solar panels, solar roof tiles, and energy storage systems such as the Powerwall and Powerpack. Their solar-plus-storage systems combine solar energy generation with battery storage to enable self-consumption, backup power, and grid independence. Tesla’s systems leverage advanced battery technology and smart energy management software for optimal performance and efficiency.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Tesla stands out for its holistic approach to renewable energy and energy storage, offering seamlessly integrated solutions for residential, commercial, and utility-scale applications. Their focus on design aesthetics, product innovation, and user experience has made them a leader in the solar and energy storage market.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Tesla serves homeowners, businesses, and utilities seeking reliable and sustainable energy solutions. Their solar-plus-storage systems are deployed in residential rooftops, commercial buildings, microgrids, and utility-scale projects, providing clean energy, backup power, and grid services.
  • Fluence:
    • Technology Enhancement: Fluence, a joint venture between Siemens and AES Corporation, specializes in energy storage systems and digital energy solutions. Their solar-plus-storage offerings include turnkey energy storage solutions, battery management software, and grid integration services. Fluence’s systems leverage advanced lithium-ion battery technology and digital control platforms for optimized energy storage and dispatch.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Fluence stands out for its expertise in grid-scale energy storage and its focus on providing flexible and resilient energy infrastructure solutions. Their collaboration with Siemens and AES combines decades of experience in energy technology and grid management, positioning them as a leading provider of solar-plus-storage solutions globally.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Fluence serves utilities, independent power producers (IPPs), and large energy consumers seeking grid-scale energy storage solutions. Their solar-plus-storage systems are deployed in utility-scale solar farms, microgrids, ancillary service markets, and distributed energy resource (DER) projects, supporting grid stability and renewable energy integration.
  • Stem:
    • Technology Enhancement: Stem specializes in behind-the-meter energy storage systems and advanced energy management software. Their solar-plus-storage solutions enable commercial and industrial customers to optimize energy use, reduce demand charges, and participate in demand response programs. Stem’s systems incorporate predictive analytics and machine learning algorithms for intelligent energy storage and dispatch.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Stem stands out for its focus on providing intelligent energy storage solutions for commercial and industrial customers. Their software-driven approach to energy management enables dynamic control of energy assets, helping customers maximize energy savings, increase resiliency, and reduce carbon footprint.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Stem serves commercial and industrial customers across various sectors, including retail, hospitality, manufacturing, and healthcare. Their solar-plus-storage solutions are deployed in facilities seeking to reduce energy costs, improve energy efficiency, and enhance sustainability, providing benefits such as peak demand shaving, load shifting, and backup power.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
    • Research Focus: MIT is a pioneer in research on Solar-Plus-Storage Systems, focusing on the integration of solar photovoltaics with energy storage technologies such as batteries, pumped hydro, and thermal storage to enhance grid stability, reliability, and resilience.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves developing advanced energy management algorithms, grid optimization models, and techno-economic analysis tools to optimize the sizing, operation, and dispatch of solar-plus-storage systems in diverse grid environments and market conditions. They also explore innovative business models and regulatory frameworks to incentivize investments in solar-plus-storage projects and facilitate their deployment at scale.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in utility-scale solar farms, microgrids, and remote communities. By combining solar power generation with energy storage capabilities, their research enables grid operators to mitigate intermittency, improve forecast accuracy, and enhance system flexibility, thereby facilitating the integration of higher levels of renewable energy into the grid and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.
  • Stanford University:
    • Research Focus: Stanford University conducts innovative research on Solar-Plus-Storage Systems, leveraging its expertise in materials science, electrochemistry, and system optimization to develop next-generation energy storage technologies and hybrid power systems for grid-connected and off-grid applications.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses the design and synthesis of advanced battery chemistries, redox flow batteries, and hybrid energy storage systems that offer high energy density, fast response times, and long cycle life for solar integration. They also explore the optimization of hybrid renewable energy systems, such as solar-wind-storage and solar-hydrogen-storage, to maximize energy yield, minimize operating costs, and reduce environmental impact.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in distributed energy resources, electric vehicle charging stations, and resilient infrastructure. By developing cost-effective and scalable solutions for solar-plus-storage integration, their research contributes to the decarbonization of the energy sector, the electrification of transportation, and the transition to a sustainable and resilient energy future.
  • University of California, San Diego (UCSD):
    • Research Focus: UCSD is at the forefront of research on Solar-Plus-Storage Systems, leveraging its expertise in power electronics, renewable energy integration, and grid modeling to address the technical and economic challenges of solar energy storage deployment.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves designing and testing innovative battery technologies, grid-tied inverters, and energy management systems that enable seamless integration of solar power with energy storage systems at the distribution level. They also conduct real-world demonstrations and pilot projects to validate the performance, reliability, and cost-effectiveness of solar-plus-storage solutions in diverse climatic and operational conditions.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their research have applications in campus microgrids, smart cities, and emergency response systems. By deploying solar-plus-storage systems on campus and in the surrounding community, UCSD serves as a living laboratory for testing new technologies, evaluating system performance, and informing best practices for renewable energy integration and grid modernization.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Solar-plus-storage systems are being increasingly deployed around the world, such as the 100 MW Tesla Powerpack system at the Hornsdale Power Reserve in Australia and the 300 MW Moss Landing Power Plant in California.