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USA: Solar On The Roof And A Big Battery Nearby

The thing about a home solar power system is that it doesn’t always produce maximum power exactly when the homeowner — or the utility trying to meet peak load demand — needs it. Like, say, around 6:30 p.m. on a blistering hot August day in California’s Sacramento Valley.

But now a pilot program is going to take a whack at solving that dilemma by hooking PV-powered homes to big batteries.

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District has installed lithium-ion batteries about the size of mini-fridges in 15 homes while another 27 homes are sharing three batteries – cubes about 4-foot by 4-foot – installed in neighborhood common areas in Rancho Cordova.

According to a presentation prepared by SMUD for the U.S. Department of Energy [PDF], which is largely financing the project, the single-home batteries can put out 10 kilowatts of power and store 8.8 kilowatt-hours. The shared batteries can produce 30 kW while storing 30 kWh.

As part of SMUD’s “SolarSmart” program, the homes in the energy-storage demo already come with building-integrated PV modules. They’re not big systems, averaging around 2 kilowatts of generating power.


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