In order for a solar owner to realize the benefits of locally produced clean energy, he or she would not need to install batteries in most states. In Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, and thirty-five other states, interconnection is legal and regulated at the state level. Interconnection is the process of connecting a residential or commercial system that is privately owned to the grid. The benefits of this type of arrangement are felt by both the solar owner and the utility in the local area. The solar owner gets to enjoy the clean energy produced by the solar array while selling back any renewable energy not used by the home back to the utility. The utility then gets to sell that energy to other homes in the area, which reduces the demand that the utility has to meet. This saves the utility money and reduces strain on the utility-owned grid. With this arrangement, all parties win in terms of financial gain, and the community and world win by reducing emissions. Reducing emissions not only helps to preserve the natural world, but it also improves public health and ensures a sustainable energy future.
The average home or business owner would need a battery if the goal of the project is to have a clean source of energy to back-up the property in case of grid failure. However, if the project’s goal is to have solar and back-up, regardless of clean energy, then a generator can be a much more affordable and reliable alternative to a battery. Batteries in their current state are designed to help solar home and business owners avoid what’s called “peak demand charges”. To go fully off-grid, or to power an entire average-sized home or business purely off of storage and solar, the cost would be astronomical. Luckily, most states do not have residential peak demand charges and most businesses operate in such a way that solar without storage will trim back on those charges. Batteries have a lot of potential and as the demand for storage continues to increase and the technology moves to scale, prices will drop and they will be more common. For now, however, the simple answer to the question is no, to realize the benefit of solar and interconnection, batteries are not required. For property owners interested in solar, solar and storage, or solar and back-up generators, reach out to a professional solar installer for an evaluation.