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

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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Figure 1: Storage operation model control logic and sample outputs.
Figure 2: Aggregate power demand impact of adding energy storage.
Figure 3: Energy consumption impact of adding energy storage.
Figure 4: Emissions impacts of adding energy storage.
Figure 5: Sensitivity of emissions impacts to storage roundtrip efficiency.

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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.

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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.

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Correspondence to Robert L. Fares.

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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.

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Supplementary Table 1, Supplementary Figures 1–35, Supplementary Notes 1–2, Supplementary References. (PDF 1283 kb)

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Fares, R., Webber, M. The impacts of storing solar energy in the home to reduce reliance on the utility. Nat Energy 2, 17001 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/nenergy.2017.1

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