EnergySage: Emergency backup power driving solar customers towards battery storage

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California-headquartered NeoVolta was one of two providers quoted at under US$1,000/kWh. Image: NeoVolta via Twitter.

Users of US solar price comparison site EnergySage are increasingly drawn towards battery storage through concerns around having enough power in emergency situations, with 70% of users now requesting storage with their solar quotes. 

EnergySage is supported by the US Department of Energy (DoE) and enables over 500 pre-screened installation companies to provide quotes for rooftop solar, energy storage, community solar and project financing. It has just released an annual ‘Solar Marketplace Intel Report,’ aggregating and analysing data from the millions of users that obtain quotes.

Following February’s blackouts in Texas, there was a considerable rise in the number of solar shoppers requesting quotes for storage and that demand remained constant for the next five months. In fact, 78% of users in Texas cited resilience concerns and need for backup power as their main reason for wanting storage. 

That said, financial interest also motivated a large number of people who were looking to make savings on their utility electricity rates, particularly in Arizona and California, where this applied to two-thirds of customers. About 15% wanted batteries with their solar to go completely off-grid, around a third wanted to be self-sufficient and about a third again said they wanted a future-proof solar PV system capable of adding a battery system later. 

According to the US Energy Information Administration, which is part of the DoE, there was around 402MW of small-scale energy storage installed in the country as of the end of 2020, of which about 41% was residential. Around 83% of that total small-scale figure is in California. By contrast, there was around 1,650MW of large-scale battery storage connected to the grid at that time.

Three manufacturers accounted for 85% of storage quotes

Meanwhile, although the price of solar PV fell over the 12 months between July 2020 and June 2021, the price of residential energy storage actually increased by about 10% on a dollars-per-kilowatt-hour basis in that period. In Q3 2020 the median price was US$1,128/kWh, in Q4 2020 and Q1 2021 it remained flat at US$1,183 and in Q2 2021 rose to US$1,241/kWh. 

Median energy storage system cost in the top 10 states ranged from US$938/kWh in Colorado to US$1,425/kWh in Texas as of H1 2021 and system sizes in those top 10 states in the first half of this year range between 10kWh and just over 13kWh. States that have seen costs rise most sharply, like Texas and Georgia, also saw median system sizes fall by the largest number of kWh.

Interestingly, while the median price has risen, two manufacturers’ battery storage solutions were quoted to customers at less than US$1,000kWh: Q CELLS and NeoVolta, replacing Tesla as the lowest price per kWh option. Meanwhile, sonnen and Enphase, which out of seven market-leading providers are the two highest priced, both exclusively use lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery chemistry in their systems. 

EnergySage only began tracking energy storage data from quotes a year ago. In that time, it has seen three manufacturers account for a massive 85% of quotes on the site: Tesla, LG Energy Solution and Enphase. Enphase was the most frequently quoted in Q2 2021, Tesla in Q1 2021, LG in Q4 2021 and Tesla again in Q3 2020.    

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