The triple play: Achieving commercial benefits of PV and energy storage


By John Merritt, Director of Applications Engineering, Ideal Power

Beyond lowering energy costs and demand charges, Superstorm Sandy demonstrated the frailty of centralized power generation. Building owners/operators throughout the Northeast in the USA are evaluating distributed power generation options for supporting building-critical loads during future grid outages. Those options (many of which also incorporate commercial-scale grid storage solutions) include on-site diesel generators,
micro-turbines, fuel cells and solar PV systems. As electrical vehicle (EV) charging is added to the mix, the grid requirements and demand costs will further increase. This article will discuss specific value streams for integrating energy storage with PV for commercial buildings, and technologies – specifically, advanced power converters – that will enable those benefits to be achieved.

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There have been encouraging signs in recent months of changing fortunes for PV equipment suppliers after a difficult period of consolidation. Shipment figures, actual and forecast, have in many instances seen an upswing, as booming markets in Japan, China and the US continue to drive demand, even as some European markets continue to dwindle. It’s probably too early to call the beginnings of a new PV technology buy cycle, but it seems more a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if ’ now, and analysts have pointed to mid-2014 as the likely point when supply and demand will be in some kind of equilibrium. Clearly the implication of this is that if demand continues to rise beyond this point, supply will have to keep up, so manufacturers will have to invest in new capacity.

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