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Why solar energy storage and grid intergration are the talk of the town

<p>Solar energy shines brightly in strengthen aging grids through energy storage, helping the utility industry.</p>

Lede: Faced with costly grid systems that bleed money and energy output, utilities are searching for a ray of sunshine to update their hardware.


Increasing, that energy is coming from solar energy storage which helps with efficiency and overtime, provides significant cost savings.


As the energy storage industry is blossoming, it is continuing to evolve with solutions like capturing and using solar energy.


At the recent Intersolar North America conference in San Francisco, energy storage experts more utilities are making that big shift and turning to PV solar technology. This slow shift towards solar energy storage is transforming grid operations.


"We see solar energy and energy storage as a perfect fit," said Markus Elsaesser, CEO of  Solar Promotional International. "Especially in the area of commercial application and stabilizing power grids. "We are convinced that we are about to see the market take off in the next few years."


The Intersolar North America conference brought together a mesh of solar, energy storage and grid companies as well as equipment developers.


Many at the conference were optimistic about the industries growth, particular about the downward price point trend.


"In the future, prices for storage solutions and PV systems will decrease and new markets for PV storage solutions will develop," Elsaesser said.


In another boost, energy storage has seen an important evolution.


"We are producing energy and we are consuming energy at the same time. Our self-consumption and our storing of the energy allows for a more dynamic area," said Markus A.W. Hoehner, CEO and managing partner of Hoehner Research & Consulting Group.


"Today's use of PV energy storage system is used for the purpose of energy independence but overtime that will continue to evolve in other areas," he said.


For now, the utilities are bit players in energy storage, but, the PV solar system companies are also pushing utilities to take a larger role in using the technology for their aging grid systems.


"The applications are quite rich in storage and utilities can gain a lot from storage," said Tom McCalmont, president of McCalmont Engineering. "They have a lot of challenges, however. Things like frequency regulations, being highly regulated, all of these issues utilities have to deal with all the time so it's good for them to distribute storage in their grid it actually helps them. So I think there will be an emerging market for utilities."


But replacing and updating grids is not for the faint of heart, McCalmont said. Utilities are flinching at the significant upfront costs, over time; solar is expected to result in significant saving for users.


We're talking millions and millions of dollars," he said. "So some companies are just putting off the inevitable. In the short term if they can avoid those expenses, even if it's just for 10 years, many utilities are electing to do just that."


Even accounting for the upfront costs, immediate benefits await utilities looking to make the energy storage commitment, McCalmont said.


"Demand charges are quite high in many states in U.S. and California and some are peak rates for demand are $25 per kilo watt, so it doesn't take much of a reduction in those kilowatts to have significant benefits," he said.


McCalmont said utilities will have to lower their guards and take advantage of the emerging industry.


"Utilities have always been somewhat hostile to distributed solar but they're going to have to realize over time that storage will truly benefit their operations," he said. "There are a lot of grid stability issues that must solve and so there's no way to avoid paying the cost of putting in expensive equipment."


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