A joint venture of solar panel manufacturer Suniva and storage developer GS Battery aims to bring battery back-up (but still grid-tied) solar into the limelight once again. Inefficient battery storage has encouraged small-scale solar generation to rely entirely on the grid for auxiliary power. Battery systems can cost nearly twice as much as straight grid-tied systems, depending on the needs of the system, and the batteries themselves are often not eligible for cost-reducing solar incentives. (Though beginning this year, battery systems are eligible for the 30 percent federal ITC.) They also take up a ton of space, which is something many homes and small commercial installation sites don't have on hand. The Suniva-GS system will use deep-cycle nanocarbon batteries to achieve high performance. The demo system will be 30 kw in capacity with a 3,000-amp hour battery component.
There's a big to-do at the moment about a certain state bill making the rounds of the California legislature. Bill AB-920 (full text here), sponsored by Democrat Assemblyman Jared Huffman, proposes revisions to the state's current net metering laws. But before I go into that, let's do a real quick crash course in net metering. The setting: your solar electric (PV) system generates electricity. Now, one of two situations apply: