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Can your home battery help power the grid in times of need?

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Southern California Edison and Sunrun work together to form one of the largest virtual power plants.

How can homes with solar plus battery systems supply energy to the power grid when it needs it the most? With the help of Sunrun and customers, it is one of the questions Southern California Edison expects to answer by creating one of the country’s largest virtual power plants.

For the next year, up to 300 SCE and Sunrun Brightbox home energy system customers will be part of a network, or virtual power plant, that can be called on to send clean energy back to the grid.

“California is leading the way to 100 percent clean energy for all. We’re excited to work with SCE to bring the benefits of Brightbox rechargeable solar batteries to more Californians through this innovative partnership,” said Lynn Jurich, Sunrun co-founder and CEO.

The program will show how responsive the virtual power plant is in delivering energy to the grid and if it is delivering as expected. Having a dependable and consistent supply of energy is critical to creating a reliable and resilient grid.

For the next year, about 300 SCE and Sunrun Brightbox home energy system customers will be part of a virtual power plant that can send clean energy back to the grid.
For the next year, about 300 SCE and Sunrun Brightbox home energy system customers will be part of a virtual power plant that can send clean energy back to the grid.

When an event is called, the virtual power plant will use energy stored in the batteries for the grid. Some reserve power will remain in the battery for the customers’ use. Customers won’t notice any difference in how their system works and they will receive a $250 incentive at the end of the first year of operation.

Up to 80 calls for energy or energy events will take place throughout the year under six scenarios to better understand how the virtual power plant responds to different types of high-energy demands. While some high-energy demands are predictable, like those that take place almost every day at the same time, others are less so including unexpected weather conditions or emergencies.

“For California to meet its carbon neutrality goal by 2045, we estimate that 40 gigawatts of energy storage will need to be added to the grid, including 10 GW from hundreds of thousands of residential customers in the future,” said Jill Anderson, SCE senior vice president of Customer Service. “The clean energy from these home energy systems will benefit all of our customers.”

“FOR CALIFORNIA TO MEET ITS CARBON NEUTRALITY GOAL BY 2045, WE ESTIMATE THAT 40 GIGAWATTS OF ENERGY STORAGE WILL NEED TO BE ADDED TO THE GRID, INCLUDING 10 GW FROM HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF RESIDENTIAL CUSTOMERS IN THE FUTURE. THE CLEAN ENERGY FROM THESE HOME ENERGY SYSTEMS WILL BENEFIT ALL OF OUR CUSTOMERS.”

Jill Anderson, SCE Senior Vice President

As fossil fuels are replaced with more carbon-free energy sources, like solar, battery storage plays an increasingly important role in maintaining a reliable grid since it can capture energy from the sun for use when it isn’t shining.

SCE’s Pathway 2045 outlines the need to integrate large amounts of utility scale and residential solar energy and energy storage, including 110 GW of solar and 40 GW of storage, into the grid to meet the states carbon neutrality goals.

That’s something more homeowners are interested in taking advantage of as they realize the benefits of clean energy and contributing to a clean energy future.

In April 2015, 116 SCE customers had solar plus energy storage systems. As of this past April, more than 7,900 customers have solar plus energy systems, 1,700 of those installations were in the first few months of the year.

This article was originally posted on ENERGIZED and was republished with permission.