Better home batteries are changing the sustainable energy game

As the cost of solar and wind power continues to drop, sustainable energy is in the middle of a growth spurt. And one of the technologies that may fuel the next phase of sustainable power for homes, companies, and cities has nothing to do with turbines and rooftop installations. It’s all about batteries.

Consider the new Peña Station Next project taking shape in Denver, a joint venture among local government, Xcel Energy, and Panasonic. This forthcoming 400-acre “sustainable small town” will run on the energy coming from a large series of solar panels connected to a 1-megawatt, grid-connected battery. With this massive battery extending the usability of solar energy beyond daylight hours, this new development seeks to become independent of outside energy sources.

Peña Station Next could be an early example of how the confluence of a new generation of energy generation and storage technology helps cut energy costs, and even help some homes and businesses go carbon-free. As analysts at McKinsey & Company put it, energy storage is the next disruptive technology in the power sector, and may be a key to helping public and private players achieve their sustainability goals.


A Tesla Powerwall installed in New Zealand
Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Since touting the Tesla Powerwall storage battery and solar roof tiles, Elon Musk has waxed eloquently about the possibility of everyday Americans generating and storing their own power. And Tesla is far from the only game in town. Rising electricity rates and better battery tech—the cost of battery storage has plummeted from $1,000 per kilowatt-hour to $230 between 2010 and 2016—have make it more cost-effective for everyone to buy into alternative energy solutions. The company’s Gigafactory in Nevada will soon be eclipsed by an even bigger battery plant in China.

According to a report from the Energy Storage…

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