Monday, September 21, 2009

Solar power in the storage industry

DSCN0907-web.jpgMost use of the words "Solar Power" along with "Storage" have to do with energy storage because Solar and Wind power are both intermittent power sources. Because they're intermittent it's attractive to look at storing that electricity for later use. However I want to talk about another aspect of storage in conjunction with solar power. It's those businesses which offer "storage" services of a more personal sort. You know the place, a cheap piece of land, a long concrete block building, doors, locks, and a monthly fee to store your stuff.

What do they have to do with solar power? It's quite simple, these businesses have large flat roofs that are well exposed to the sun. Normally these businesses are located away from other buildings meaning there's little shade etc. These attributes make it great for collecting solar power.

In other words the typical storage business would make a great location to install solar power. And it's not just those businesses because there are lots of modern office buildings with flat roofs, the large majority of which are well exposed to the sun and would make a great place to put solar panels.

One quibble which comes to mind however is the utility companies & the power system in the U.S. is not configured to support a large number of small power stations. Instead it's configured to support a small number of large power stations, ones that produce 100 megawatts or more of electricity.

For example homeowners who buy solar power for their house might have dreams of getting rich selling power to the power company. It would certainly turn the world on its head if home owners were in the position of selling power to the power company. But for example in California we have "Net Metering" which means the power a home owner supplies to the grid is taken off their utility bill, but if they provide more to the grid than their utility bill they do not get that money. Under Net Metering a home owner can only be compensated by the utility company up to the amount they use.

Perhaps these storage companies or office parks could, being businesses, negotiate a different power arrangement with the power companies. That is if you owned one of those storage companies wouldn't you like the opportunity to make some side income?

This is so obvious an idea to me that I'm surprised nobody has thought to do it. Maybe there's a kink in it along the lines of the Net Metering ridiculosity.


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