This article was featured in our December 2014 issue of BUILDER Magazine.

Solar provider Sunrun is working to advance the renewable energy market by implementing a storage pilot program for existing Sunrun customers across various U.S. markets.

Together with long-time partner OutBack Power Technologies, a designer and manufacturer of power-conversion technologies, Sunrun will test the storage system in homes across the country. The storage system uses weather-resistant batteries and inverters in combination with existing home solar configurations, and will be tested in indoor and outdoor environments. 

The pilot program is planned to run for multiple years, says Andrew Pontti, corporate communications manager at Sunrun.

“Combining home solar and energy storage allows customers to be a part of the solution for building a clean, modern grid that provides power when it is needed the most,” Pontti says.

While solar power is a valuable resource, its inherently intermittent nature poses limitations. The ability to store solar energy allows homeowners to use clean power during the nighttime and on overcast days when solar panels aren’t generating as much electricity.

“Energy storage adds value to homeowners who have solar,” says Pontti. In addition to expanding the possible use times, “it also protects homeowners during natural disasters when the electric grid could be down,” he notes.

Residential solar-energy storage has been a much-discussed issue as the power source’s popularity has increased, and it is seen as a natural next step for the industry. However, development is still in its early stages. Storage capabilities would benefit utilities as well as homeowners; the increased stability would lessen the need to balance fluctuations in supply and demand on the electric grid.

Sunrun will analyze the data from its pilot program to begin planning energy storage offerings that will offer customers the best value for the best technology.

“Our major focus continues to be on bringing down the cost of solar for consumers," Pontti says. "Ultimately, we want to offer additional value to homeowners and will release a product that makes the most economic sense for them."