Article

The impacts of storing solar energy in the home to reduce reliance on the utility

  • Nature Energy 2, Article number: 17001 (2017)
  • doi:10.1038/nenergy.2017.1
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Abstract

There has been growing interest in using energy storage to capture solar energy for later use in the home to reduce reliance on the traditional utility. However, few studies have critically assessed the trade-offs associated with storing solar energy rather than sending it to the utility grid, as is typically done today. Here we show that a typical battery system could reduce peak power demand by 8–32% and reduce peak power injections by 5–42%, depending on how it operates. However, storage inefficiencies increase annual energy consumption by 324–591 kWh per household on average. Furthermore, storage operation indirectly increases emissions by 153–303 kg CO2, 0.03–0.20 kg SO2 and 0.04–0.26 kg NOx per Texas household annually. Thus, home energy storage would not automatically reduce emissions or energy consumption unless it directly enables renewable energy.

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Acknowledgements

This work was sponsored by Pecan Street, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), and the University of Texas Energy Institute. Special thanks to R. Baldick for his questions, which helped shape this work.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Texas, Austin, Texas 78712, USA

    • Robert L. Fares
    •  & Michael E. Webber

Authors

  1. Search for Robert L. Fares in:

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Contributions

R.L.F. identified the research question, curated the data used, designed the research methods, analysed the numerical results, and prepared the manuscript. M.E.W. contributed to identifying the research question, interpreted the results, prepared the manuscript, and provided institutional and material support for the research.

Competing interests

This work was sponsored in part by the University of Texas Energy Institute, which has a number of internal and external funding sources. External funding sources include oil and gas producers, investor- and publicly owned electric utilities, and environmental non-profits that might be perceived to influence the results and/or discussion reported in this paper. A complete list of Energy Institute sponsors is available online (http://energy.utexas.edu/mission/sponsors-financial-support). Only the authors were directly involved with developing the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Robert L. Fares.

Supplementary information

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    Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Table 1, Supplementary Figures 1–35, Supplementary Notes 1–2, Supplementary References.