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SunPower pilots storage in California

SunPower Corporation has become the latest US solar provider to pilot the deployment of residential storage systems in California by extending the terms of an existing partnership with homebuilding company KB Homes to include storage.

SunPower currently offers solar panel leasing to residents of 150 KB Homes-built communities – an undisclosed number of energy storage systems with built-in energy use monitoring will also be offered under the California pilot programme.

Initially, the storage systems will allow users to maintain power supplies in a power cut or power outage as well as allowing the residents to control their power use.

Publicity materials circulated by SunPower hinted that the company was seeking to offer storage that could be used more extensively, claiming “in the near future, the energy storage category is expected to experience substantial growth while adding additional benefits like home energy management”.

Chief executive officer Tom Werner said: "With energy storage capability, homeowners with solar power systems and home system monitoring today can control their electricity costs and have the security of knowing they'll have power during an outage. In the near future, battery storage will help homeowners manage energy loads using stored power, including charging electric vehicles at night."

Other residential solar companies including SolarCity have recently also been trialling similar programmes, with SolarCity director of grid integration telling PV Tech at the beginning of the year that his company sees storage as the "inevitable" next step for solar.

Chief executive officer Tom Werner reaffirmed that SunPower was testing storage solutions in Australia and Germany, having originally begun research into storage-plus-solar in 2010. That pilot was widely reported to have been put on the backburner with the announcement of the company’s foray into Australia marking SunPower’s return to the field.

The pilot programme will initially give users the ability to store power for use in an outage, with further developments expected in the "near future". All images: SunPower facebook page.

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