How Is Solar Energy Stored: The Best Ways to Store It

How is solar energy stored? Solar storage solutions depend on your requirements and available resources.

1. How is solar energy stored: commercial solar energy storage

How is solar energy stored? One of the best ways to store solar energy is commercial solar energy storage. Utility companies and other businesses often have larger budgets than individual homes, making mechanical and thermal storage viable options. Although these storage methods can be costly, they can help utilities keep up with peak energy demand.

Grid energy storage with next-generation batteries. 2020 was a record year for new energy storage in the United States. In the third quarter alone, the country deployed 476 MW of new energy storage, a record 240% increase from the previous quarter. Most of the new deployments are one-hour front-of-the-meter (FTM) storage solutions, but still offer a promising outlook for the future of commercial solar storage. The latest government estimates calculate the cost of compressed air at $105/kWh, making it the most cost-effective mechanical storage option for large-scale applications. Pumped storage. Excess solar energy can be used to pump water uphill, creating a lot of potential energy. The current cost of pumped hydro storage is around $165/kWh, making it the second-best option for large-scale mechanical energy storage.

2. How is solar energy stored: home solar energy storage

How is home solar energy stored? Residential solar energy storage has myriad benefits, including resiliency, cost savings, and decentralization of electricity production (also known as a "virtual power plant"). But the commercial energy storage methods we discussed above may be cost-prohibitive for the average homeowner. Thankfully, battery storage can now offer homeowners a cost-effective way to store solar power.

Lithium-ion batteries are the first choice for home solar storage. They're relatively cheap (and getting cheaper), unobtrusive, and perfect for every need. Other commonly available batteries for residential use include saltwater and lead-acid batteries.

Regardless of battery type, home battery backup allows homeowners to conserve energy during high-production, low-demand times (i.e., workdays) for use during periods of high demand when electricity generation is reduced. Home solar storage inherits the same advantages of large-scale solar storage, translating into resiliency, uninterrupted energy and cost savings. These benefits go directly to the homeowner.

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