U.S. solar giant SunPower has entered an agreement to have battery storage installed in new homes in California, as it looks to expand its solar plus storage systems that are also being tested in Australia.
SunPower announced that it is extending its partnership with U.S. homebuilder KB Homes -- which already installs solar on all of its new-construction houses -- to install new energy storage solutions at some homes.
SunPower and KB Homes are piloting the energy storage solutions this year in select KB Home communities in the California communities of Irvine, El Dorado Hills, and San Diego, with the potential for a broader rollout to additional communities next year.
The company says the new pilot program will enable solar power to be generated during the day for use at night and/or during power outages.
“With energy storage capability, homeowners with solar power systems and home system monitoring today can control their electricity costs and have the security of knowing they’ll have power during an outage,” SunPower CEO Tom Werner said in an interview.
“In the near future, battery storage will help homeowners manage energy loads using stored power, including charging electric vehicles at night.”
SunPower is also trialling solar plus storage in Australia and Germany, although the details of the Victoria, Australia residential trial is being kept quiet for the moment.
“Battery storage and energy management services are highly complementary to residential solar systems,” Werner said. “Together, they help further reduce the monthly cost of energy, maximize value and energy security, and provide a hedge against rising utility costs.”
SunPower operates in ten countries around the globe but is particularly attracted to Australia, which it says could be a world leader in solar generation.
“We see penetration rates in Australia that are higher than in other parts of the world; it has frankly expensive power and therefore solar can compete, [and] it has largely deregulated electricity markets, so it opens the market up to innovative structures,” Werner said during a recent visit.
Currently, Australia has the world’s highest penetration of rooftop solar, with more than 3.4 GW installed on 1.4 million homes.
Werner has predicted that the company may choose Australia as a test site for a home energy management system that would incorporate solar plus storage.
“The more solar there is, the more economic energy is going to be in Australia. If you combine that with economic storage and energy management and then you add creative financing schemes like we have in the U.S., you could have an offering where the consumer has way, way more control over their energy bill than they do today.”