Solar Earth Inc.



solar earth inc
Close this search box.

How To Store Solar Energy From Solar Panels?

Solar panels face a common drawback they only generate power when the sun’s out. Yet, peak energy demand happens in the evenings when solar output drops, causing a supply-demand gap. Solar panels often produce surplus energy during lower-demand hours, anticipating peak usage. Efficient solar energy storage holds immense potential for homes and businesses.

This blog will discuss how to store energy from solar panels, highlighting its advantages. Additionally, we’ll explore tools for modeling it in your solar installations.

How to Store Energy from Solar Panels?

how to store solar energy

To store energy from solar panels, use batteries, thermal storage (like storing heat in water or salts), or mechanical storage (such as compressed air or flywheels). 

Battery Storage 

Various battery types are used in solar power storage, including lead-acid, lithium-ion, nickel-cadmium, and flow batteries. Lithium-ion batteries, prevalent in smartphones and computers, stand out. Understanding how they function generally highlights their role in solar battery storage.

Consider your phone or computer, both powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. These batteries comprise three components a positive cathode, a negative anode, and an electrolyte layer facilitating electron flow between them.

Charging begins when electrons are introduced to the anode as devices are plugged in. These electrons attract lithium ions from the cathode, charging the battery. Unplugging disconnects the electrons, prompting the lithium ions to release electrons, creating a circuit that powers your device.

Solar charging parallels this process with additional considerations. Photovoltaic solar, utilizing solar panels, generates electricity. Sunlight produces photons that, when striking a solar panel, dislodge electrons. 

These electrons and resulting holes shift to opposite sides due to electric charge. The liberated electrons form a circuit, generating an electrical current to harness solar energy for storage.

Thermal Storage

Thermal energy storage harnesses the potential of various mediums, including water or molten salt, to efficiently absorb and retain heat from solar sources. The process involves capturing solar energy during periods of abundance and storing it for later use. Typically, this stored heat becomes invaluable when there’s an energy demand, commonly used to facilitate the boiling of water for power generation.

Consider a practical example of thermal energy storage using molten salt. Concentrated solar power systems can focus sunlight on a molten salt receiver during peak sunlight hours. 

This salt absorbs and stores the intense heat. Later, when electricity is needed, the stored heat is utilized to produce steam, subsequently driving turbines to generate electricity. This exemplifies how thermal energy storage addresses the intermittent nature of solar power and enhances its reliability for a consistent energy supply.

Mechanical storage

Mechanical energy storage taps into the potential energy of objects to create electricity. This approach involves converting excess electrical power into mechanical power, which can be transformed back into electricity when needed. Three notable mechanical energy storage systems include:

  1. Flywheel: This method employs surplus electricity to set a flywheel in motion. Later, during peak demand periods, the spinning flywheel generates electricity, providing a rapid energy supply.
  2. Pumped Hydro: Water is pumped uphill to a reservoir above the turbine generators in this system. When electricity demand peaks, the stored water flows through turbines, generating electricity.
  3. Compressed Air: In this storage system, air is compressed and pumped into substantial vessels, such as tanks or underground formations. When energy demand rises, the compressed air is released, driving turbines to produce electricity.

These mechanical energy storage systems play a crucial role in balancing energy supply and demand, offering a reliable means of storing and retrieving electricity as needed.

What is the best way to store solar energy?

Solar energy storage lacks a one-size-fits-all solution, as choices hinge on specific needs and available resources. Let’s explore standard options for both commercial and home applications:

Commercial Solar Energy Storage:

Mechanical and Thermal Storage: Suitable for entities with larger budgets, such as utility companies. While costs can be high, utilizing mechanical and thermal storage methods proves effective in managing peak energy demand.

Next-Generation Batteries for Grid Energy Storage: The U.S. saw a substantial increase in energy storage in 2024, mainly through one-hour front-of-the-meter (FTM) storage solutions.The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts that utility-grade energy storage capacity could reach 14.53 GW in 2024, a notable increase of 133.6% compared to last year. This surge indicates the growing potential of grid energy storage with next-generation batteries in commercial settings.

Compressed Air: With an estimated cost of $105/kWh, compressed air emerges as a cost-effective mechanical storage option for large-scale applications.

Pumped Hydro: By using surplus solar energy to pump water uphill, pumped hydro creates substantial potential energy. While costs are around $165/kWh, it remains a viable option for large-scale mechanical energy storage, albeit limited to specific geographic areas.

Home Solar Energy Storage:

Lithium-Ion Batteries: Cost-effective and versatile, lithium-ion batteries are the preferred choice for residential solar energy storage. Their affordability, compact design, and adaptability suit homeowner needs.

Alternative Batteries: Homeowners also have access to alternative options, such as saltwater and lead-acid batteries, providing flexibility in choosing a storage solution.

Regardless of the battery type, home and commercial solar energy storage offers numerous benefits, including resiliency, cost savings, and decentralized electrical production. Homeowners can store excess energy during low-demand periods for use during high-demand periods, ensuring uninterrupted power supply and financial savings. The advantages of solar energy storage extend directly to homeowners, enhancing their energy independence and sustainability.

What are the benefits of storing solar energy?

Why waste surplus energy when you can store it for later use? Storing solar energy offers a range of benefits that go beyond just convenience:

1. Filling Energy Gaps:

Maintain a steady energy flow for your operations by using stored energy during routine maintenance or unexpected interruptions, ensuring no loss in productivity.

2.Environmentally Friendly:

Beyond reducing your carbon footprint with solar energy systems, storing surplus energy allows you to control usage. It eliminates the need for non-renewable resources and contributes to a sustainable energy approach.

3. Saving Money on Electricity Bills:

Living in a state without solar net energy metering or fair compensation policies for your generated solar energy might be a setback. However, integrating battery storage can be a game-changer, offering a way to reduce utility bills by utilizing more of your self-generated power.

Even if you’re not getting total compensation for the excess energy you send back to the grid, a battery allows you to store any additional solar power generated during the day. This stored energy can then be discharged during nighttime or when the sun isn’t shining, effectively replacing the need to draw power from the utility grid. 

The battery becomes a valuable tool for optimizing your self-consumption and minimizing reliance on the grid, contributing to cost savings and energy independence.

4. Removes Dependence on Energy Grid:

Energy grids are only sometimes reliable. Solar storage systems provide backup power, ensuring a continuous power supply during grid power outages caused by bad weather.

5. Balances Energy:

Having a reservoir of stored energy enables a consistent power supply throughout the day, preventing scenarios where you have excess electricity at one time and none at another.

6. High Publicity:

Companies using renewable energy are admired for their environmental efforts. Highlighting your energy storage as part of your sustainability commitment can be a powerful marketing tool, attracting environmentally conscious customers.

7. Frequency Response:

For businesses with expensive machinery, ensuring their safety is crucial. Energy storage in batteries acts as a buffer, protecting machinery from sudden surges or drops in electrical power and minimizing potential damage and loss.

In summary, storing solar energy is an innovative and environmentally conscious choice with many practical benefits, from cost savings to improved reliability and a positive public image.

Turn to Solar Earth Inc Solar For Your Solar Needs

The sun, an endless energy source, can be harnessed effectively when resources are efficiently harnessed and positive outcomes are achieved with solar panels. To maximize its potential, it’s crucial to install solar panels and store the surplus energy they produce. Solar Earth is committed to assisting you in installing top-tier commercial solar panels, ensuring your business taps into the full benefits of solar power. 

Have questions? Consult our experts for tailored solutions, and get a free quote today to align our offerings with your business needs seamlessly.