The path toward solar, batteries and generators working together on whole home energy resilience and grid independence
By Georg Bettenhauser, VP Business Development, Starting power
The two main drivers for a homeowner to make a significant investment in home energy management equipment are resiliency and self-generation profitability. Environmental benefits are always a nice bonus, but rarely a primary driver, except for some very early solar users with disposable income.
Historically, home standby generators have been harnessed for resiliency, while solar and solar + battery storage systems have primarily focused on minimizing energy bills.
Against a background of a total addressable housing market of approximately 77 million homes in the United States, progress has been made by leveraging both primary drivers (using Sunrun and Generac presentation data from investors):
- In the field of self-generation, the current solar market penetration is ~4% of households with ~3 million systems deployed. At ~15% storage capacity, approximately 450,000 systems contain storage (~1% penetration).
- On the track of resilience, traditional home standby generators with ~3.9 million units have reached ~5% market penetration.
Obviously, solar and backup technologies are just surfacing. The untapped market potential represents a blue ocean opportunity that will undoubtedly be hotly contested at every link in the value chain.
Two roads converging
Today’s homeowners are presented with a myriad of options and choices to meet their needs for both minimizing home energy costs and energy resilience during power outages.
Currently, a homeowner driven by resilience is likely still drawn to buying a home standby generator as insurance against power outages. Unfortunately, this has no positive effect on their electricity bill, or the environment.
Meanwhile, a homeowner focused on minimizing energy bills can purchase a solar system initially and add batteries later with the expectation of energy resilience during a power outage. Most homeowners probably don’t understand the resilience limitations of batteries.
Tomorrow’s customers expect a comprehensive, whole-home energy management solution and a seamless customer experience throughout their journey, from initial engagement to ongoing after-sales support for their system.
In the context of comprehensive whole home energy resiliency and grid independence, offering a potential customer only a solar or solar energy + storage system is like selling a 1 meter blanket to a 6 foot person to warm up. stay. However you slice it, something will be cold:
- Deploying only solar energy addresses the economic dimension of “grid independency” but leaves the requirements for short and long term “energy resilience” uncovered.
- Adding storage covers a short-term backup, but is uneconomical for extended outages with insufficient sunshine.
The missing 2 ft of the energy resilience blanket – the long-term backup gap – can be addressed cost-effectively and environmentally by adding a clean, safe and efficient generator that operates intermittently. Think of energy storage in combination with a generator as a never empty battery or as solar panels that work at night.
The road ahead of us
As an independent energy contractor in your home, you already live in interesting times. Manufacturers of solar equipment, batteries and generators strive to align your business with their brand and technology. You will also compete with national solar installers on a mission to take control of as many residential roofs as possible to become relevant players in the virtual power plant arena.
Technologically, the convergence of solar, batteries and generators into a well-integrated, comprehensive, whole-home energy solution has a long way to go. Look no further than the number of boxes and pipes required for an average system installation.
As system technology converges, you’ll see your installer colleagues experimenting with diverse business models and functional specializations and deciding to outsource different parts of the value chain. While some focus on lead generation and sales, others specialize in installation or after-sales service.
The US home energy management market is certainly not homogeneous. Evolving utilities and state-specific incentives determine economic attractiveness, while resilience requirements are heavily driven by wildfires, hurricanes and other extreme weather events. In short, the most attractive state markets are the place in the Venn diagram where renewable-friendly and disaster-prone environments overlap.
So, what is your path forward?
Upstart has a survey to learn more about home energy suppliers’ views on whole-home resilience and grid independence. Each survey participant will receive a copy of the overall results. Start the survey here†