These are exciting times for those interested in off-grid solar power. The cost of photovoltaic (PV) solar cells is just a fraction of what it was just a few years ago. Even more importantly, the cost of solar energy storage is now truly affordable. There is a great deal of positive solar power news in 2016.
Solar power is the perfect solution to a host of challenges:
- Rising cost of electricity
- Terrorist threats to the grid
- Grid vulnerability in storms
- An unreliable, aging grid
- Environmental concerns
Natural disasters can take down portions of the grid for days or even weeks at a time. Many of those in the path of Hurricane Sandy and other major storms emerged determined to be more self-reliant in generating their own electricity.
Phenomenal Growth in Solar
Many more Americans are getting their electricity from solar. There are now more than 1 million solar installations in the United States. In the first three months of 2016, 64 percent of all new generating capacity in the country came from solar. According to the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA), new solar capacity will increase 94 percent from 2015 to 2016.
According to SEIA, the total installed solar capacity now stands at 29.3 GW, enough to power 5.7 million homes in the United States. The residential solar market is as strong as ever, with more than 500 MW of new capacity coming online for four straight quarters.
Limits of Traditional Off-Grid Solutions
In the past, those that wanted to provide for their energy needs for survival looked at backup generators powered by gasoline or propane. The problem of fuel supply always remained a problem. Alternative energy sources like solar, wind and micro-hydro are all dependent on nature, weather and/or daylight.
For those interested in off-grid living, the intermittent nature of solar energy is a real challenge. Therefore, cost-effective batteries are an essential component of a many an off-grid solar installation. Today, such energy storage systems are more affordable than ever. Solar systems with battery backup includes three key components comment: PV cells, inverter and batteries. The inverter converts direct current to alternating current.
Lead Acid to Lithium Ion
Until recently, deep cycle lead-acid batteries were the go-to solution for many solar energy enthusiasts, largely because they are capable of delivering steady current over prolonged periods. These batteries are typically designed for other purposes. Lead-acid batteries intended for use in golf carts, commercial floor scrubbers and for industrial use are adapted for use in residential solar installations for some time.
Much of the focus is now on lithium-ion batteries. The energy storage potential of lithium has been known since the 1970s. It provides the highest energy density by weight compared to lead acid batteries. Lithium-ion batteries have what is called “high cycle life.” That is, they provide a significant number of charge discharge cycles before capacity begins to diminish. This is important because the initial cost of solar energy storage systems is only part of the equation long-term maintenance and replacement costs should also be considered. As massive new facilities are built to churn out these lightweight, energy-dense batteries, the economies of scale will continue to drop prices.
Solar Energy Storage to Skyrocket
The fact that solar energy storage is now both efficient and affordable is evident in projections made by IMS Research. The firm says that the global energy storage market will grow from $200 million in 2012 to $19 billion in 2017. That’s almost a hundred-fold increase in just six years.
Lower-cost, more efficient PV cells have given birth to a whole new generation of solar-powered products, many of which are highly relevant to those wanting to live off the grid.
Survival Life Association offers more than 20,000 products specifically selected for preppers and survivalists. To learn more about how solar-powered products might benefit you, please contact us.