The Key to More Resilient, Affordable Energy is Solar + Home Storage Batteries
Lynn Jurich· 2
The series of recent natural disasters around the world makes me pause and reflect on the impact our choices have on our planet, and how we build our communities going forward. The unfortunate reality is that extreme weather events will only increase in severity with climate change. The Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan federal watchdog, said climate change has already cost U.S. taxpayers more than $350 billion over the last decade. The report, which does not include spending on this year's natural disasters, comes as Congress prioritizes the passage of a major disaster relief bill. Tragically, this means more and more communities will face destruction from natural disasters than ever before.
Severe weather is the leading cause of power outages in the United States, accounting for 87% of outages, and affecting 50,000 or more customers from 2002–2012, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Additionally, studies of such events reveal the potential cost of individual extreme events. From 1980 to 2012, the United States suffered damages of $1 billion or more in each of 144 instances from severe weather.
Beyond the initial damages caused by power outages, long-term outages can result in additional costs. According to a Kohler Generators report, American households face approximately $150 billion in power outage-related expenses each year. This includes:
- Food loss
- Alternative shelter
- Emergency supplies (i.e. flashlights, candles, etc.)
- Purchasing of portable generators
- Lost wages due to time off work
The reality is that an estimated 70 percent of energy infrastructure is nearing the end of its useful life. Instead of rebuilding outdated poles and wires to the tune of $90 billion per year, we should look to the latest innovations in clean technology to rebuild our grid. Rooftop solar plus home batteries offer more affordable, scalable solutions that diversify our power sources, providing more resilience in the face of extreme weather.
From Sunrun’s own experience with Hurricane Sandy in 2012, we found that almost all of our 3,700 systems in New Jersey returned to producing energy when the grid came back up. Sunrun systems are constructed to withstand high winds and harsh weather over their multi-decade lifetime. Now, with new products like Sunrun Brightbox solar + battery storage, we can offer consumers an even more robust service to keep the lights on when the grid is down. It charges during the day and switches to backup power from the battery at night, able to repeat the cycle each day.
As Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico rebuild, we must get smarter. Rooftop solar plus home batteries will help us better withstand future disasters by contributing to a more resilient grid. Barriers to adoption are behind us. Solar is now one of the most affordable sources of energy available for homeowners, and 48% of residential consumers are considering installing rooftop solar systems on their homes in the next two years.
As the electricity grid continues to modernize, distributed energy resources such as home batteries and other cutting-edge technologies can help facilitate the transition to a smarter grid. Consumers are at the center of it all, with the ability to literally and figuratively take the power into their own hands and homes.
We know that solar plus home batteries can’t solve all problems when it comes to extreme weather. But it’s certainly the best path forward for resilient, clean and affordable power.