Solar energy is on the rise, and an increasing number of homeowners and businesses across the nation are choosing to invest in this clean, renewable energy source. We often meet Massachusetts residents who have questions about installing solar, and with the buzz over Tesla Powerwall and solar-plus-storage so often in headlines, one of the biggest topics we hear questions about is solar batteries.
Are solar power batteries worth the upfront cost, and what are the benefits of adding energy storage to a solar PV system, such as with Tesla Powerwall? As Boston Solar is a new Tesla Powerwall Certified Installer, we outline below how energy storage works, the benefits, and new financial incentives available that makes solar+storage more accessible and affordable than ever.
How Solar Battery Storage Works
A conventional grid-tied solar PV system produces energy for your home and then sends any excess energy that your system generates back into the power grid. When your system isn’t producing enough electricity for your energy needs, you would use electricity from the grid.
With battery storage or Tesla Powerwall, you can store your excess solar energy generated during the day for later use at any time. During the day, the sun shines on your solar panels, charging your battery. At night, your home draws electricity from your battery, powering your home with clean, sustainable energy. This is an especially great benefit if your local utility charges more for electricity used in the evenings.
So, what are the other benefits of solar battery storage?
The Benefits of Solar Battery Storage in Massachusetts
Greater Energy Independence
By adding Tesla Powerwall to your solar system, you’re taking your energy independence that much further and owning the majority of your energy production 24/7. Powerwall stores your solar energy so you can use it on demand and self-power your home or business even when the sun is down, reducing your reliance on the electricity grid.
Power During Outages
In the event of a power outage or power surge, solar panels themselves won’t keep your lights on as they will be turned off for grid safety. With solar plus a battery system, you won’t be left in the dark. Your home can be protected with an automatic power backup that continues to operate during an outage. With Powerwall, you are assured of energy security.
Lower or Eliminate your Electricity Bill
We’ve talked a lot previously about how solar can save you on your energy bills. When you install solar, you generate your own electricity, lowering how much you would pay your utility for your energy needs. With solar + storage, you’ll be relying on your own self-powered energy even further and could use your backup power that has been stored when your solar panels aren’t generating electricity, such as at night.
A key thing to remember here is that your system will remain tied to the grid, even with battery storage. This allows you to draw power from the grid as needed when battery storage is not sufficient to meet your energy needs.
Valuable Financial Incentives for Battery Storage
As the market for solar+storage evolves, there are valuable financial incentives for solar batteries, including Powerwall, here in Massachusetts.
SMART Solar Batteries
Already available to Massachusetts homeowners and business owners is the SMART solar incentive program. But did you know that you can receive SMART savings when you add a solar battery to your solar energy system? Open to all SMART solar participants - both residential and commercial, if you add a solar battery with your solar PV system, you could save up to $6000 on the costs of your entire solar installation.
In addition to SMART, Massachusetts recently became the first state to make battery storage eligible for energy efficiency incentives. Under these incentives you can install a solar battery and sign up for a five-year contract with your utility - basically a ‘bring your own battery’ incentive. This is a pilot program called the Connected Solutions’ incentive program sponsored by National Grid and the Massachusetts’ Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) and available for residential and business customers. It will help reduce utilities' electricity load during peak demand times by drawing on ‘discharge events’ from battery storage systems.
At the end of each summer or winter season, battery storage owners will be compensated by the utility based on the average discharged kW multiplied by the incentive rate. For residential customers, the incentive rates are $225 per average kW in the summer and $50 per average kW in the winter season.
For example, if your battery system was used in 30 discharge events during a summer season, averaging 4 kW discharge rate, your incentive compensation would be $900!
4 kW x $255 = $900 back in your pocket!
Federal Solar Tax Credit
At the federal level, your solar battery could also be eligible for the solar tax credit along with the rest of your system — as long as your battery is charged predominantly by your solar panels. By installing before the end of 2020, you could receive the maximum 26% solar tax credit before it starts to decline next year.
Looking for financing options to take advantage of the new incentive? Well, Massachusetts’ new energy efficiency plan also makes HEAT loans available to customers who are looking to purchase battery storage. A HEAT loan is a zero-interest, seven-year loan sponsored by the Mass Save® program. It may be used for battery-only sales or for solar-plus-battery sales, but the loan itself is eligible only for the battery portion of any sale.
How Much Can You Save with Solar + Storage?
Let’s take an example if your solar energy system and one Tesla Powerwall solar battery costs approximately $45,000, almost 75% of the costs of going solar would be incentivized under Massachusetts’ SMART program, the Connected Solutions program and the Federal Investment Tax Credit. That’s a savings of $35,000 on the cost of installing solar + storage!
Here are some Boston Solar customers, John and Carolyn Fryer pictured with their new Tesla Powerwall:
So, Is Battery Storage Right for You?
If you’re interested in installing solar + Powerwall for energy storage and wondering if this is the right decision for you, talk to Massachusetts’ trusted solar contractor, Boston Solar. We can help you determine if energy storage makes sense for your system and what the financial benefits may look like based on your customized solar design and energy demands.
Wondering if solar battery storage is right for your solar investment? Call 617-858-1645 or contact us to schedule a consultation!