Behind-the-meter (BTM) energy storage is an additional option allowing customers to store the capacity of energy that they need. It is designed and built for a single building/facility to help reduce its carbon footprint. This is achieved by generating electricity via locally produced renewable sources. Behind-the-meter energy storage is a trend that is expected to continue rising as technology costs fall.
When thinking about BTM energy storage, most people think about energy storage systems like the Tesla Powerwall or Sonnen batteries, both of which use lithium ion battery technology. The main reasons for increased interest in BTM energy storage technology include saving money, improving energy reliability, and allowing for increased energy consumption.
Energy storage allows the customers to store excess energy, as well as consuming what they need throughout the day. By storing the energy, customers can easily change the rates of their electricity bills by using this battery-stored energy during peak hours when electricity costs are generally higher. Not only that, but since the use of solar power has increased, many people have been looking for ways to store the excess amounts of energy generated by their solar panels. Instead of letting this excess energy return to the grid, customers can now store the excess energy themselves with battery technology.
Renewable resources like solar often rely on the weather, particularly the performance of wind/sun. This means that reliability can be shaky at times. As a result, battery storage is certainly worth considering for these consumers. BTM energy storage is also a good way to help provide backup in the event of a power outage/blackout.
Batteries that are integrated with solar systems are generally eligible for tax credits as well. So if you do have a solar system, there is no reason to go without battery storage. BTM battery storage gives customers the opportunity to increase the value of going solar even further, while also allowing peace of mind and energy independence. Below, we’ve outlined some issues which can arise with battery storage, as well as the host of benefits associated with battery storage.
Some Issues with BTM Energy Storage on the Grid
As customers utilize BTM energy storage to lower their electricity bill, the revenue of the utility bills decrease. The issue here is that utility companies may eventually up utility costs to account for their decreased revenue from electric bills.
When many customers disconnect from the main grid and use their energy storage backup, there can be “grid defection” — a scenario where consumers rely on independent power sources and not the main grid. This can threaten utility companies. Grid defection has not been an issue so far because it is not as cost effective as remaining on the grid and, in many places, isn’t even technically possible.
Benefits of BTM Energy Storage on the Grid
BTM energy storage can help reduce the peak demand and help lessen the stress on the grid system.
BTM energy storage can help lower payments for wholesale power supplies.
BTM energy storage can address the challenges of renewable energy intermittency. Renewable energy resources can charge during times of excess energy and discharge in periods of high demand. This means that stored energy from the battery can be used during peak demand hours to lessen the load of your utility bill.
Utility companies offer a demand response program where you can help lessen the energy usage during peak demand. BTM energy storage can be a way for customers to participate in these programs.
Using a BTM energy storage system to help reduce peak demand can help the utility system’s efficiency and improve the utility’s load factor.
BTM energy storage has incentive programs in several states from public power utility companies such as JEA in Florida, SMUD in California, and Salt River Project in Arizona. Cost reduction combined with increased competition signals big opportunities for energy storage in the electricity industry.
By Kasey Liu