Let’s all breathe a big sigh of relief – 2020 is almost over! Despite some hurdles, solar energy had a strong year full of exciting news and milestones; in their 2020 World Energy Outlook report, the International Energy Agency (IEA) proclaimed that solar will be the “new king of electricity,” the world’s largest solar plant went live in October (2.2 gigawatts!), and just this week, the federal government extended the 26 percent solar tax credit for another two years.
To finish off the end of a long year, we’ve pulled together a list of our most popular articles of 2020, as chosen by you, our readers.
Backup generators vs. energy storage: doing the math
Given the rise of strong hurricanes, wildfires paired with public-safety power shutoffs (PSPS), and…you know…a global pandemic, it’s no surprise that our readers are more interested in home resiliency than ever before. But when it comes to backup power for your home, which is the better option: generators, or an energy storage system? It’s a question we get a lot, and not necessarily an easy one to answer. We decided to break down the costs and benefits of each to help make your decision a bit easier.
Tesla battery day 2020
On September 22nd, 2020, Tesla hosted its annual Battery Day. And as with all things Tesla, there was a lot of hype leading up to the event: what advancements would the company announce? What new products could we expect to come out of the gigafactory? Would Elon Musk bring his new baby, X Æ A-Xii? Following the much-anticipated event, we wrote up this article summarizing the biggest takeaways from the day, and what Tesla’s announcements mean for both the EV and solar-plus-storage industry (Spoiler alert: more powerful batteries, no baby appearance).
Why utilities want you to have a battery
The year is not over yet, but we’ve seen enough data and numbers so far to know that 2020 will be the biggest year for storage yet. In fact, WoodMac Mackenzie forecasts that this year will be the first time that the “…U.S. storage market surpasses 1 gigawatt of installations and $1 billion of market value.” And this trend of a growing battery market is bound to continue, especially considering its supporters: energy storage systems not only help keep your lights on during power outages, but also provide many benefits to utility companies. Increasingly, electric utilities are turning to behind-the-meter storage systems for grid services, such as demand response programs. In this article, we dive into the important role utility companies play in promoting battery adoption, and why they do so.
Technology updates not to miss: 500-watt panels
It feels like it was only yesterday that solar panels capped out at 18 percent efficiency and we considered 300-watt (W) panels as “high-wattage”. But the world keeps spinning and solar tech continues to evolve. This year, Trina–one of the largest solar panel manufacturers in the world–announced a new line of bifacial 500W solar panels, becoming one of the first companies to reach this milestone. However, if you’re a homeowner looking for the newest and coolest solar panels to put on your roof, don’t get too excited – this product, physically larger than standard residential panels, was primarily engineered for large-scale utility installations.
(Update: a few months after we published this article, Trina went a step further and revealed a new 600W module! You can read all about it in one of our solar news roundups.)
Rapid shutdown: what you need to know
Have you ever noticed that houses with solar panels have a box with an on/off switch that says “rapid shutdown”? As the name suggests, rapid shutdown is an electrical safety requirement for solar panels that allows you to quickly de-energize your solar panel system. But why is this necessary in the first place, and in what circumstances would you need to use rapid shutdown capabilities? We discuss that in this article, as well as provide an overview of rapid shutdown requirements by state (they vary!)
Stay up-to-date with solar
As always, thanks for reading! 2021 will be a big year for solar energy, and we’re looking forward to writing all about it. To keep up-to-date with our new articles as they come out, subscribe to our Solar News Feed on the right-hand side of this page. And of course, let us know if you have any solar or storage questions that we can help answer at EnergySage – we’re more than happy to help.