Last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) delivered their latest report on the state of our global climate. The report warned that we are already seeing melting glaciers, rising tides, and dying coral reefs, and that the worst is yet to come. But under the doom and gloom was a silver lining: fixing our climate problem won’t cost as much as we initially thought. As Paul Krugman of the New York Times put it, salvation is getting cheap.
With solar prices falling 75% since 2008 and costs of other renewables dropping as well, it’s becoming easier than ever to switch to renewable energy. Last year, non-hydro renewables accounted for 44% of all new electric generating capacity, according to Bloomberg’s latest energy report.
The challenge, of course, is integrating these new intermittent renewable energy sources into an electric grid designed for centralized fossil fuel generation. To address this issue, cities and homes are beginning to integrate energy storage with their solar PV and EV chargers, thereby avoiding expensive demand charges from peak energy use.
Recently, many environmentalists have begun advocating for energy storage to receive the same investment tax credits that renewable energy technologies have received over the years. Tax credits for energy storage would push these technologies forward and would accelerate the transition to a lower-carbon world.
By our estimates, adding intelligent energy storage to a solar project could boost investor returns by as much as 15%, all while reducing greenhouse gases and lowering stress on America’s aging electric grid. As a result, Lux Research estimates that the combined market for solar PV and energy storage will reach $2.8 billion over the next five years. Intelligent energy storage is just one of the many exciting technologies that will help us quickly, efficiently, and cheaply reduce greenhouse gases. If given the proper support, the impact will be significant.
So let us not forget the genius of human innovation and the potential that exists on the horizon. We accomplished the seemingly impossible task of driving rapid growth through innovations such as the steam engine, cars, factories, and the modern electric grid. Now it is our task to heed the call of the IPCC and to capitalize on the opportunities presented by increasingly cheap sources of clean technology. Sustained technological innovation will allow us to overcome the challenges presented by a changing climate; with the right approach and the necessary policies, this transformation will be both environmentally and economically sustainable.
Vic is Chief Executive Officer of Green Charge Networks, an intelligent energy storage company based in Silicon Valley. Since 2009, Vic led the company through its US $12 million smart grid project with Con Edison of New York, the US Department of Energy and Fortune 500 companies on a ROI-driven energy storage GreenStation with software intelligence to empower commercial and industrial customers to save on their energy bills. With more than 15 years experience in software development and complex system implementation, Vic is passionate in applying software to improve power efficiency.